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Where Graphene Meets Antisense

In today’s issue we covered a new way to deliver short stretches of DNA into cells- with graphene, the nanoscale material that’s made from sheets of carbon just one atom thick. There’s been an explosion of papers on this versatile stuff, since it has potential applications in computing, digital displays and more.

This is very early-stage work, but we at the Haystack were intrigued by the material’s talent for ferrying a single-stranded piece of DNA into a cell. That’s largely because we’ve been following the story of antisense technology, an approach that targets the RNA that controls production of disease-causing proteins. Most antisense drugs are single-stranded oligonucleotides, unlike RNA interference (RNAi) technology, which uses double-stranded oligos. As we’ve written, antisense drugs have been on something of a roller-coaster ride, being highly touted in the 90′s and then later falling out of favor. It’s not clear to me what would need to be fixed to stem more late-stage failures of antisense drugs, but maybe new techniques for delivery could be part of a solution.

None of the potential applications are lost on the authors, led by Huang-Hao Yang at Fuzhou University in China. They say they’re looking into delivery of both antisense DNA and siRNA. We’ll have to see what happens.

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