Self-assembled RNA-triple-helix hydrogel scaffold for microRNA modulation in the tumour microenvironment
The therapeutic potential of miRNA (miR) in cancer is limited by the lack of efficient delivery vehicles. Here, we show that a self-assembled dual-colour RNA-triple-helix structure comprising two miRNAs--a miR mimic (tumour suppressor miRNA) and an antagomiR (oncomiR inhibitor)--provides outstanding capability to synergistically abrogate tumours. Conjugation of RNA triple helices to dendrimers allows the formation of stable triplex nanoparticles, which form an RNA-triple-helix adhesive scaffold upon interaction with dextran aldehyde, the latter able to chemically interact and adhere to natural tissue amines in the tumour. We also show that the self-assembled RNA-triple-helix conjugates remain functional in vitro and in vivo, and that they lead to nearly 90% levels of tumour shrinkage two weeks post-gel implantation in a triple-negative breast cancer mouse model. Our findings suggest that the RNA-triple-helix hydrogels can be used as an efficient anticancer platform to locally modulate the expression of endogenous miRs in cancer.