Anticancer Use of Nanoparticles as Nucleic Acid Carriers
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Advances in nanotechnology opened up new horizons in the field of cancer research. Nanoparticles made of various organic and inorganic materials and with different optical, magnetic and physical characteristics have the potential to revolutionize the way we diagnose, treat and follow-up cancers. Importantly, designs that might allow tumor-specific targeting and lesser side effects may be produced. Nanoparticles may be tailored to carry conventional chemotherapeutics or new generation organic drugs. Currently, most of the drugs that are commonly used, are small chemical molecules targeting disease-related enzymes. Recent progress in RNA interference technologies showed that, even proteins that are considered to be "undruggable" by small chemical molecules, might be targeted by small RNAs for the purpose of curing diseases, including cancer. In fact, small RNAs such as siRNAs, shRNAs and miRNAs can drastically change cellular levels of almost any given disease-associated protein or protein group, resulting in a therapeutic effect. Gene therapy attempts were failing mainly due to delivery viral vector-related side effects. Biocompatible, non-toxic and efficient nanoparticle carriers raise new hopes for the gene therapy of cancer. In this review article, we discuss new advances in nucleic acid and especially RNA carrier nanoparticles, and summarize recent progress about their use in cancer therapy.