miRNA-Responsive Drug-Loaded NMOFs for targeted Treatment of Cancer

Willner Itamar, HUJI, Faculty of Science, The Institute of Chemistry
Nechushtai Rachel, HUJI, Faculty of Science, The Alexander Silberman Institute for Life Sciences


The therapeutic activity of most anticancer drugs in clinical use is limited by their general toxicity to proliferating cells, including some normal cells. Although chemists continue to develop novel cytotoxic agents with unique mechanisms of action, many of these compounds still lack tumor selectivity and have not been therapeutically useful.

Metal-organic framework nanoparticles (NMOFs) represent a broad class of highly porous advanced materials t5hat can be synthesized to be non-toxic and have good permeability to cells, thus, can be applied as effective drug carriers. A good balance between specificity and efficacy of anti-cancer medications is the important unmet need to be fulfilled. 

Our Innovation

  • Novel nanoparticles that can be loaded with active compounds (e.g. anti-cancer) and “locked” by a nucleic acid responsive coating. The ‘locks’ can be unlocked by specific miRNA at the targeted cells.

Applications for use:

  • Selective release of the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin into two types of cancer cells - breast cancer cells and ovarian cancer cells was demonstrated.
  • Nanoparticles can be designed for any well characterized miRNA specific to various cancers.
  • In-vitro experiments proved high efficacy and specificity of drug-loaded NMOFs.
  • A means to amplify the miRNA biomarkers in the respective cells is shown.
  • The miRNA-stimulated unlocking of the drug-loaded NMOFs represents a versatile autonomous sense-and-treat therapeutic approach with potential to develop into a broad platform for active compounds with high cell toxicity or that require very precise targeting.
  • Dual miRNA-responsive drug therapeutic carriers may be envisaged.

Contact for more information:

Mel Larrosa
VP Business Development Healthcare