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Nucleic Acid Meet Nanotechnology – A tale of two approaches

Dr. Ke Zhang

Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Northeastern University

In recent years, the promise of using nucleic acid as therapeutic materials is being gradually realized. This presentation will focus on the development of two distinct methods for transferring genetic materials to cells. The first method involves block copolymer-based nanoparticles, termed cationic shell-crosslinked knedel-like (cSCK) nanoparticles, as vehicles to carry genetic materials into the cell. The cSCKs were shown to be highly effective in transporting DNA, PNA, and siRNA into the cell, and the effectiveness appears to be governed strongly by the surface chemistry of the particles. The second method involves a polymer-free DNA self-delivery system. This system is comprised almost entirely of chemically crosslinked nucleic acids, and is synthesized via a novel gold-catalyzed crosslinking strategy. The particles are capable of entering cells and regulating gene expression without using any polymer co-carrier.

Short Biography:

Dr. Ke Zhang obtained his BS degree in 2005 in Applied Chemistry from Nanjing University of Technology, China. He then studied polymer chemistry with Prof. Karen Wooley at Washington University in St. Louis focusing on shell-crosslinked knedel-like nanoparticles and gene delivery, and obtained a PhD in Chemistry in 2009. Thereafter, Dr. Zhang was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Chad Mirkin at Northwestern University to develop hollow spherical nucleic acids, a carrier-free platform for gene regulation. In 2012, Dr. Zhang joined Northeastern University as an assistant professor. His current research includes the design and synthesis of unique polymer superstructures, nucleic acid-polymer conjugates, and drug delivery.

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