Ribonucleic acid, or RNA, is a tricky yet important element of the human body. DNA’s integral cousin, if DNA is the building blocks of life, then RNA helps bring the blocks together through special delivery mechanisms. RNA’s ability to do so means it has the potential to treat certain diseases at the genetic level, which would include tumors and chronic wounds.
The medical application is predicated on oligonucleotides, which are short strands of RNA molecules that are delivered to anywhere in your body that needs to affect the expression of genes. This process involves traveling through the bloodstream to the affected area, but at times the RNA molecules are far too fragile to survive the voyage. The interfering RNA molecules introduced into the body are quickly broken down with enzymes and acids, thus killing the oligonucleotides.
According to Chemical & Engineering News, a new strategy is being developed to bring RNA strands directly to wherever they are needed in the human body, through special nano-coated bandages. To treat a tumor inside of your body, surgeons would treat the area with a biodegradable polymer that would slowly release RNA and dissolve the tumor. A bandage coated with RNA molecules could also treat a chronic wound that refuses to heal.
As the nano-coating on the bandage or polymer slowly dissolves, it releases interfering RNA molecule strands that are tethered to protective nanoparticles. The RNA molecules are released and go on a “seek and destroy mission” to find any remaining affected cells in your body and switch off the genes that cause growth.