Targeted Therapy for Acute Myeloid Leukemia with a DNA Tetrahedron.

Learn how UBC’s Cheeky Nanos are sticking it to cancer.

UBC's Cheeky Nanos

Located at The University of British Columbia, we are a student-led engineering design team funded by ECOSCOPE.

Less Toxic, More Effective

Doxorubicin is a potent chemotherapeutic agent, but like all drugs that bind to DNA, it comes with severe side effects. Learn how we use its DNA-binding properties to create a cheap, reliable, and extendable system to target it to AML.

The Science

Our members have spent many long weekends in the lab, learn about the science that went into making our project a reality.

DNA for Leukemia Treatment: An Antibody-Drug Conjugate Alternative

Over the past few years, many novel cancer treatments have made their way into the physician’s toolbox, including antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). Using an antibody, the drug is able to selectively target specific surface proteins expressed on cancer cells, thus delivering drugs with greater precision. This year, our team worked to create a DNA nanotechnology-based version of ADCs to target acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Our drug delivery vehicle is a self-assembling DNA tetrahedron. Instead of using antibodies, we used an aptamer to target CD33, a receptor that is overexpressed on AML cells. Doxorubicin, the chemotherapy drug to be delivered, was incubated with the tetrahedron and allowed to intercalate between the DNA strands, bypassing the complex conjugation chemistry required for ADCs. The ultimate goal is to deliver doxorubicin exclusively to AML cells using our structure.