Professor, Biomedical Engineering; Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
TRIST-Prostate/Genitourinary Cancers,Cancer and Physical Sciences,TRIST-Neuro Oncology/Glioblastoma
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Dr. Mirkin focuses on the development and application of spherical nucleic acids (SNAs) and SNA-nanoparticle conjugates. These novel structures are the basis for highly sensitive and selective genetic and immunoassays for detecting disease targets at ultra-low concentrations, highly efficacious gene regulation methodologies for treating many diseases with genetic bases, and extremely useful intracellular detection schemes (‘nanoflare’ technology) for quantitative analysis of genetic content in live cells. Remarkably, these highly negatively charged SNA structures do not require cationic transfection agents or additional particle surface modifications and naturally enter all cell lines tested to date (over 50, including primary cells) in high quantities. Using coreless versions of SNAs, Mirkin has proven that the novel properties of these structures, including their efficient cellular uptake and their ability to inactivate enzymes which play a role in nucleic acid degradation and innate immune response triggering, are due to the dense and highly oriented arrangement of the nucleic acids comprising the ligand shell. Mirkin’s SNA technology is advancing medicine by outperforming traditionally used probes and agents in a variety of applications due to their unique nanoscale physical and chemical properties that result from their unusual three-dimensional structure.