The molecules found inside this rose could be potent antiviral agents. Not because they’re newly discovered natural products—rather, they’re small interfering RNA (siRNA) sequences designed to target and silence key genes in chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne pathogen which currently has no approved vaccine or treatment. And the flower is a porous metal-organic framework (MOF) meant to deliver the siRNA into cells.
Shakil Polash is investigating the nucleic acid delivery properties of MOFs as part of his PhD work in Ravi Shukla’s lab at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. In addition to targeting viruses, Polash is also looking into MOF delivery of siRNA and other nucleic acids, such as plasmid DNA and CRISPR sequences, for cancer treatment. Polash and his colleagues published a paper on their MOF-delivered chikungunya virus gene silencing efforts last December (Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. 2022, DOI: 10.3389/fbioe.2022.1003448).
Submitted by Shakil Ahmed Polash
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This article was updated on Jan. 10, 2023, to specify that the topic of study is metal-organic frameworks’ ability to deliver nucleic acids, not their ability to deliver drugs generally.