Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS



Project ID: 336493
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Italy

Mid-Term Report Summary - NATURE NANODEVICES (Nature-inspired theranostic nanodevices for tumor imaging, early diagnosis and targeted drug-release)

The overriding goal of the project “Nature Nanodevices” is to mimic Nature in the design of novel nucleic acid based nanodevices that detect cancer, provide detection-driven therapy, and monitor treatment efficacy. One of the main objectives of the project is thus to design, engineer and optimize highly specific biomolecular nanodevices that undergo binding induced conformational changes upon target binding and, in doing so, signal the presence of the cancer marker (Aim I) or release a therapeutic cargo (Aim II). Another important goal of the project is to apply a “synthetic biology” view and exploit and mimic several naturally occurring mechanisms (e.g. allostery, cooperativity etc.) to optimize the signalling output and drug release efficiency of the nanodevices (Aim III).
During the first reporting period I achieved very important results in all the three above described aims of the project. More specifically, I have designed and optimized several DNA-based nanoswitches that are activated by antibodies, transcription factors, specific nucleic acid sequences and pH. Moreover, I have adapted most of these nanoswitches into both optical and electrochemical platforms. As planned in the DoA, I have also designed different drug-release DNA-based nanomachines that can load and release a specific therapeutic cargo (i.e. a DNA sequence or doxorubicin) upon binding to a ligand. Finally, I have developed different DNA based nanodevices that mimic both homotropic and heterotropic allostery and exploit amplification strategies to increase their sensitivity.
Each of these results have been published in high-impact publications. More than 20 papers in peer-reviewed journals have been published with acknowledgment to the ERC grant. Among these, 5 were published in JACS, the most prestigious multidisciplinary Chemistry journal (IF=13), 3 in Angewandte Chemie (IF=12), 3 in Nano Letters (IF=13) and 4 in Chemical Science (IF=9.2). Many of the papers published during the course of this first reporting period were highlighted in the covers of the journals. More specifically, our papers were highlighted in the covers of Analytical Chemistry (1), Chemical Science (3) and Nanoscale (1).

The results achieved during the first reporting period also attracted important media attention including national media newspapers and radio/tv interviews.

During this first reporting period I was also involved in several dissemination activities in workshops and PhD schools. Moreover, I have organized two international workshops entitled “Functional DNA Nanotechnology”. The workshops, funded through the ERC grant, joined together among the most important and prominent scientists in the field of DNA nanotechnology and are becoming a reference point for the research community working in the field of DNA Nanotechnology.

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