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1.  Molecularly Self-Assembled Nucleic Acid Nanoparticles for Targeted In Vivo siRNA Delivery 
Nature nanotechnology  2012;7(6):389-393.
Nanoparticles are employed for delivering therapeutics into cells1,2. However, size, shape, surface chemistry and the presentation of targeting ligands on the surface of nanoparticles can affect circulation half-life and biodistribution, cell specific internalization, excretion, toxicity, and efficacy3-7. A variety of materials have been explored for delivering small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) - a therapeutic agent that suppresses the expression of targeted genes8,9. However, conventional delivery nanoparticles such as liposomes and polymeric systems are heterogeneous in size, composition and surface chemistry, and this can lead to suboptimal performance, lack of tissue specificity and potential toxicity10-12. Here, we show that self-assembled DNA tetrahedral nanoparticles with a well-defined size can deliver siRNAs into cells and silence target genes in tumours. Monodisperse nanoparticles are prepared through the self-assembly of complementary DNA strands. Because the DNA strands are easily programmable, the size of the nanoparticles and the spatial orientation and density of cancer targeting ligands (such as peptides and folate) on the nanoparticle surface can be precisely controlled. We show that at least three folate molecules per nanoparticle is required for optimal delivery of the siRNAs into cells and, gene silencing occurs only when the ligands are in the appropriate spatial orientation. In vivo, these nanoparticles showed a longer blood circulation time (t1/2 ∼ 24.2 min) than the parent siRNA (t1/2 ∼ 6 min).
PMCID: PMC3898745  PMID: 22659608
2.  Systemic RNAi-mediated Gene Silencing in Nonhuman Primate and Rodent Myeloid Cells 
Leukocytes are central regulators of inflammation and the target cells of therapies for key diseases, including autoimmune, cardiovascular, and malignant disorders. Efficient in vivo delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA) to immune cells could thus enable novel treatment strategies with broad applicability. In this report, we develop systemic delivery methods of siRNA encapsulated in lipid nanoparticles (LNP) for durable and potent in vivo RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated silencing in myeloid cells. This work provides the first demonstration of siRNA-mediated silencing in myeloid cell types of nonhuman primates (NHPs) and establishes the feasibility of targeting multiple gene targets in rodent myeloid cells. The therapeutic potential of these formulations was demonstrated using siRNA targeting tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) which induced substantial attenuation of disease progression comparable to a potent antibody treatment in a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In summary, we demonstrate a broadly applicable and therapeutically relevant platform for silencing disease genes in immune cells.
PMCID: PMC3381593  PMID: 23344621
delivery; immune cell; siRNA
3.  Astrocyte-Specific Inactivation of the Neurofibromatosis 1 Gene (NF1) Is Insufficient for Astrocytoma Formation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2002;22(14):5100-5113.
Individuals with the neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) inherited tumor syndrome develop low-grade gliomas (astrocytomas) at an increased frequency, suggesting that the NF1 gene is a critical growth regulator for astrocytes. In an effort to determine the contribution of the NF1 gene product, neurofibromin, to astrocyte growth regulation and NF1-associated astrocytoma formation, we generated astrocyte-specific Nf1 conditional knockout mice (Nf1GFAPCKO) by using Cre/LoxP technology. Transgenic mice were developed in which Cre recombinase was specifically expressed in astrocytes by embryonic day 14.5. Successive intercrossing with mice bearing a conditional Nf1 allele (Nf1flox) resulted in GFAP-Cre Nf1flox/flox (Nf1GFAPCKO) animals. No astrocytoma formation or neurological impairment was observed in Nf1GFAPCKO mice after 20 months, but increased numbers of proliferating astrocytes were observed in several brain regions. To determine the consequence of Nf1 inactivation at different developmental times, the growth properties of embryonic day 12.5 and postnatal day 2 Nf1 null astrocytes were analyzed. Nf1 null astrocytes exhibited increased proliferation but lacked tumorigenic properties in vitro and did not form tumors when injected into immunocompromised mouse brains in vivo. Collectively, our results suggest that loss of neurofibromin is not sufficient for astrocytoma formation in mice and that other genetic or environmental factors might influence NF1-associated glioma tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC139771  PMID: 12077339

Results 1-3 (3)