DNA “Nano-Claw”: Logic-Based Autonomous Cancer Targeting and Therapy

Cell types, both healthy and diseased, can be classified by inventories of their cell-surface markers. Programmable analysis of multiple markers would enable clinicians to develop a comprehensive disease profile, leading to more accurate diagnosis and intervention. As a first step to accomplish this, we have designed a DNA-based device, called “Nano-Claw”. Combining the special structure-switching properties of DNA aptamers with toehold-mediated strand displacement reactions, this claw is capable of performing autonomous logic-based analysis of multiple cancer cell-surface markers and, in response, producing a diagnostic signal and/or targeted photodynamic therapy. We anticipate that this design can be widely applied in facilitating basic biomedical research, accurate disease diagnosis, and effective therapy.