miRNA-Responsive Drug-Loaded NMOFs for the 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



LifeSciences and BioTechnology   


Cancer, Oncology, Nanoparticles, Metal-Organic Framework Nanoparticles, NMOF,  miRNA, targeted therapy, nanotechnology, Biomarker

Current development stage

General list: TRL3 Experimental proof of concept            

For Pharmaceutical development: TRL4 - POC & Safety of candidate drug formulation is demonstrated in defined animal model


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.
  • 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.
  • The overall global nanoparticle drug market is estimated to reach over US$200B by 2024 at a CAGR of 10%.



Contact in Yissum 

Mel Larrosa, VP Business Development Healthcare



Contact for more information:

Mel Larrosa
VP Business Development Healthcare