Researchers at Penn State have developed a DNA-laced hydrogel that mimics biological systems by releasing a proteins in response to a chemical signal, a technology which could be useful for drug delivery. The system has potential for on-demand release of therapeutic proteins, also known as biologics, to treat a variety of conditions.
Hydrogels are composed of a network of polymer chains infused with water. They have attracted a lot of attention as they can be biocompatible and are suitable for implantation in the body due to their unique biological and physical properties. A research group at Penn State is developing a ‘smart’ hydrogel that mimics the way biological systems can respond to chemical signals, such as the way in which glucose can stimulate the release of insulin.
The hydrogel is made from a polymer called polyethylene glycol, but is also laced with two types of DNA, including aptamers, which are short strands of DNA, and double-stranded helical DNA. The aptamers bind to the therapeutic protein encased in the gel, while the helical DNA is reactive to an external chemical signal.
In this example, a signal such as glucose stimulates the DNA helices in the gel to unwind. One DNA strand binds to the glucose, while the other causes the aptamer to release the insulin into the environment surrounding the gel. The system can be customized to release a variety of therapeutic proteins in response to a variety of chemical signals.
“With rational design, this biomimetic hydrogel system constitutes a general platform for controlling the output of signaling proteins for versatile potential applications such as drug delivery, cell regulation, molecular sensing and regenerative medicine,” in a statement said Yong Wang, a researcher involved in the study.
Study in Chemical Science: Displacement and hybridization reactions in aptamer-functionalized hydrogels for biomimetic protein release and signal transduction…
Via: Penn State…