Ushering in The Digital Drug Design Revolution with Spherical Nucleic Acids

Professor Chad A. Mirkin will present the Science Faculty Visiting Researcher Special Seminar, with a talk entitled, "Ushering in The Digital Drug Design Revolution with Spherical Nucleic Acids".

Over two decades ago, nucleic acid therapeutics emerged as a promising new technology for treating diseases with a known genetic basis. In addition, in recent years, nucleic acids have been identified as sequence-specific regulators of the immune system. However, issues pertaining to their stability, toxicity, and delivery have dramatically limited their application and thus slowed the growth of the field. Indeed, the vast majority of nucleic acid drugs that are currently being developed target diseases that can be addressed in the liver, the site where nucleic acids accumulate when systemically administered.  We have discovered a new form of nucleic acids that can be actively internalized by most cell and tissue types, without the need for transfection agents, owing to their novel nanoscale architecture. These new forms of DNA and RNA, referred to as spherical nucleic acids (SNAs), are revolutionizing the way we study, track, and treat disease. SNAs are being used as potent gene regulation agents that can be topically delivered to the skin and cross the blood-brain-barrier to treat neurodegenerative conditions; they have also shown immense promise as new cancer vaccines. This presentation will describe how SNAs are steering the community toward a whole new way of thinking about digital drug design.

Professor Chad A. Mirkin is the Director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology and the George B. Rathmann Prof. of Chemistry, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, and Medicine at Northwestern University.  He is a chemist and a world-renowned nanoscience expert, who is known for his discovery and development of spherical nucleic acids (SNAs) and SNA-based biodetection and therapeutic schemes, Dip-Pen Nanolithography (DPN) and related cantilever-free nanopatterning methodologies, On-Wire Lithography (OWL), and Co-Axial Lithography (COAL), and contributions to supramolecular chemistry and nanoparticle synthesis. He has published over 670 manuscripts (ISI H-index =131, Google = 154) and has over 

Monday, July 31, 2017 - 13:00

PD Hahn, Lecture Theatre 3, Upper Campus, UCT