Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a technique for stabilizing RNAs, such as gene-modifying small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), by using an enzyme to attach them to gold nanoparticles without first derivatizing them. The strategy preserves the RNAs’ bioactivity, which is often compromised by the derivatization usually required to attach them to nanoscale materials. A variety of binding groups have been added to RNAs to get them to adsorb to nanoscale materials to enhance their stability. But a customized approach is typically needed for each type of material. Northwestern’s Chad A. Mirkin, Jessica L. Rouge, and coworkers have now developed a universal approach (ACS Nano 2014, DOI: 10.1021/nn503601s). The researchers use T4 DNA ligase to covalently attach one or more sequences of RNA to DNA-functionalized gold nanoparticles called spherical nucleic acids (SNAs). They demonstrated the technique by using dual-RNA-modified SNAs to knock down two different gene targets. “The assembly of RNA onto a variety of different materials can be realized quickly and efficiently, accelerating the study of RNA-nanoparticle-based delivery platforms for a wide array of biological applications,” the researchers write.