Sending Oversized Drug Cargoes in Super-Sized Nano Cage


Consider how difficult it is trying to cram a gift into a box that isn’t big enough. Sometimes just a bigger box is needed

Building a Bigger Box

To deliver treatments to specific locations within the body, tiny artificial containers called nanocages may be used. But certain drug molecules are like too big a prize for a standard-sized nanocage “box.”

Researcher from University of Cambridge details how they created a super-sized nanocage that could possibly be used to transport larger drug cargoes in a study published in Natural Synthesis. They make bigger boxes.

Simple Building Blocks

The ability to exercise rational control over the self-assembly of this type of enclosure is often quite difficult. Therefore, the team chose to use an easy building block procedure inspired by natural biological systems rather than standard self-assembly techniques.

The larger cage they made with the new technique has an enclosed volume of just over 92 nm3making it the largest ligand-covered inner cavity volume ever fabricated.

Although larger cages have been reported, they feature a more open ligand framework, making them less effective as they do not successfully bind cargo. Potential “guest” molecules can exit through widely separated rods if they are not covalently bound to the “host” skeleton.

The research findings are important because they show how we can create larger functional structures using simple building blocks.

Dr Kai Wu, First Study Author and Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge

Bigger Cargo

Super-sized nano cages can be used in biotechnology and drug delivery, where they can be used to transport larger therapeutic biomolecules to specific parts of the body.

The researchers also demonstrated that large biomolecules such as hydrophobic membrane proteins or proteases can attach to the large internal cavities of nanocages, which could prove useful for drug discovery and development.

Dr Wu added, “Overall, this research broadens our understanding of how to fabricate nanoscale structures and may have practical implications in various fields.

This work, partially sponsored by Astex Pharmaceuticals under its Continuing Innovation Postdoctoral Program, aims to make real-world impact in the field of new drug development.

Professor Jonathan Nitschke, Research Lead

Journal Reference:

Wu, K., et al. (2023) Systematic construction of progressively larger capsules from fivefold linking pyrrole-based subcomponents. Natural Synthesis. doi:10.1038/s44160-023-00276-9.



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