DNA nanovehicles – a smart approach to deliver drugs to specific cells in the body

PhD defence, Monday 4 April 2016. Anders Hauge Okholm.

2016.04.04 | Rikke J. Ljungmann

Anders Hauge Okholm

Confocal microscopy image of cancer cells that have taken up DNA nanoparticles coated with the protein transferrin. Cell membranes are green, and cell nuclei are blue. Red dots indicate the location of DNA nanoparticles. Especially in the bottom left corner, it is clear that DNA nanoparticles are located inside the cells. Anders Hauge Okholm found a positive correlation between the number of transferrin protein molecules on DNA nanoparticles and cell uptake. This gives researchers a better understanding of nanoparticle design in relation to drug delivery.

Nanoparticles have an enormous potential to deliver medicine to cells of disease. In order to do so, researchers are currently investigating how nanoparticle size, shape and surface chemistry affect the fate of nanoparticles inside the human body.

During his PhD studies, Anders Hauge Okholm used nanoparticles made up of DNA molecules to test how the number of cell ligands on the nanoparticle surface affect cell uptake. DNA is a smart molecule that enables unprecedented control of nanoparticle shape and surface molecule positioning. In his work, Anders Hauge Okholm developed new methods to attach cell ligands to DNA nanoparticles and evaluate their uptake in cells. Using these methods, he found a positive correlation between the number of transferrin protein molecules on DNA nanoparticles and cell uptake.

This new research contributes to the general understanding of the behaviour of nanoparticles when interacting with cells. It provides a new set of tools for researchers to test how surface modifications can improve drug delivery in the future.

Part of Anders Hauge Okholm’s PhD studies were conducted at The Rockefeller University, New York, USA, under the supervision of Professor Thomas Tuschl.

The PhD degree was completed at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Centre (iNANO), Science and Technology, Aarhus University.

This résumé was prepared by the PhD student.

Time: Monday 4 April 2016 at 13.15
Place: Lecture Theatre, iNANO House, building 1593, room 012, Aarhus University, Gustav Wieds Vej 14, 8000 Aarhus C
Title of dissertation: DNA Nanovehicles for Cellular Delivery
Contact information: Anders Hauge Okholm, ao07@inano.au.dk +45 5122 9522
Members of the assessment committee:
Associate Professor Björn Högberg, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Associate Professor Stefan Vogel, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy, University of Southern Denmark
Associate Professor Duncan Sutherland (chair), iNANO, Aarhus University
Main supervisor:
Professor Jørgen Kjems, iNANO and Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University
Language: The dissertation will be defended in English

The defence is public.
The dissertation is available for reading at the Graduate School of Science and Technology/GSST, Ny Munkegade 120, building 1520, rooms 128–134, 8000 Aarhus C.

PhD defence
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Revised 21.09.2017