Dual-functional DNA nanogels for anticancer drug delivery

Haishuang Zhu, Jingyuan Wu, Jing Zhao, Le Yu, Bella Rosa Liyarita, Xiayan Xu, Ying Xiao, Xiao Hu, Shiqun Shao, Jian Liu, Xing Wang, Fangwei Shao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


DNA hydrogels with unique sequence programmability on nucleic acid framework manifest remarkable attributes, such as high payload capacities, biocompatibility and biosafety. The availability of DNA nanogels with multimodal functionalities remains limited due to the absence of facile gelation methods applicable at the nanometer scale. Here, we developed a one-step assembly of DNA dendrimers into nanogels (DNG) with couple hundred nanometers size. DNG showed robust stability against physical forces and biological degradation for easy purification and sustainable drug release. Long-term stability either in powder or aqueous solution endows DNG easy for shipping, handling and storage. By encoding dual functionalities into separate branches on DNA dendrimers, DNG can accommodate chemodrugs and aptamers with distinctive loading moduli. DNG significantly enhanced the drug efficacy against cancerous cells while minimizing cytotoxicity towards somatic cells, as demonstrated in vitro and in xenografted mice models of breast cancer. Thus, due to their facile assembly and storage, bi-entity encoding, and inherent biocompatibility, DNG exhibits immense prospects as nanoscale vesicles for the synergistic delivery of multimodal theranostics in anticancer treatments. Statement of significance: DNA nanogels were self-assembled via a facile protocol utilizing a DNA dendrimer structure. These nanogels displayed robust stability against physical forces, permitting long term storage in concentrated solutions or as a powder. Furthermore, they exhibited resilience to biological degradation, facilitating sustained drug release. The bi-entity encoded dendritic branches conferred dual functionalities, enabling both chemodrug encapsulation and the presentation of aptamers as targeting motifs. In vivo investigations confirmed the nanogels provide high efficacy in tumor targeting and chemotherapy with enhanced drug efficacy and reduced side effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-249
Number of pages10
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Aptamer targeting
  • Breast cancer
  • Chemodrug delivery
  • DNA dendrimer
  • Nanogels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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