DNA nanomaterials for preclinical imaging and drug delivery

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Besides being the carrier of genetic information, DNA is also an excellent biological organizer to establish well-designed nanostructures in the fields of material engineering, nanotechnology, and biomedicine. DNA-based materials represent a diverse nanoscale system primarily due to their predictable base pairing and highly regulated conformations, which greatly facilitate the construction of DNA nanostructures with distinct shapes and sizes. Integrating the emerging advancements in bioconjugation techniques, DNA nanostructures can be readily functionalized with high precision for many purposes ranging from biosensors to imaging to drug delivery. Recent progress in the field of DNA nanotechnology has exhibited collective efforts to employ DNA nanostructures as smart imaging agents or delivery platforms within living organisms. Despite significant improvements in the development of DNA nanostructures, there is limited knowledge regarding the in vivo biological fate of these intriguing nanomaterials. In this review, we summarize the current strategies for designing and purifying highly-versatile DNA nanostructures for biological applications, including molecular imaging and drug delivery. Since DNA nanostructures may elicit an immune response in vivo, we also present a short discussion of their potential toxicities in biomedical applications. Lastly, we discuss future perspectives and potential challenges that may limit the effective preclinical and clinical employment of DNA nanostructures. Due to their unique properties, we predict that DNA nanomaterials will make excellent agents for effective diagnostic imaging and drug delivery, improving patient outcome in cancer and other related diseases in the near future.

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