Month: February 2020

UConn RNA on Valentine’s

On February 14th 2020, UConn Chemistry Department, together with RNA society and Lexogen hosted a UConn RNA Salon 2020. It was an hour seminar talking about the thing most of us enjoy! SCIENCE!

Our first-year Ph.D., Jin, was given the opportunity to present his work on his current research, titled “DNA-inspired Nanopiece for enhanced endosomal escape and efficient siRNA delivery”

As many may know, RNAi Therapy is an up and coming treatment for many diseases. Patirsiran (Common name Onpattro) was approved by the FDA recently in 2018. Patirsiran is the first clinical treatment for polyneuropathy of hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis in adult patients, a treatment for peripheral nerve disease. Human ATTR amyloidosis affects several parts of the body and can affect the quality of life in patients. This shows that RNA can be developed into novel therapeutics to treat a variety of diseases.

However, like all things in life, there are challenges of using RNAi. Unlike conventional drugs, siRNA do have to get into cells and getting into cells is not an easy task, due to the negative surface charge, large molecule weight and enzyme degradable structures of siRNAs, it is difficult for them to get into human cells without delivery. Unfortunately, some of the current known delivery vehicles are usually internalized by cells via endocytosis forming endosomes (You know, like eating and digesting?). It has been a challenge for many scientists around the world to find a way to bring the siRNA into cells.

Hence, we proposed a novel bio-inspired nanomaterial to be used as a delivery vehicle. These nano-materials are engineered with DNA based pairs which result in high biocompatibility with the human body. Our nano-materials are called the Janus-based Nanotubes (JBNTs) where we have Cytosine and Guanine together with a conjugated side chain of Lysine. The most interesting part is that these molecules can self assemble into nanotubes by hydrogen bonds and stack on each other via pi-pi stacking. With this nanotubes, he and the other students were able to develop a type of delivery vehicle for RNAs to be delivered into cells, better in escaping the endosomes!

So now that you have a summary of his presentation, you’ll have to find out what are the results by contacting him personally! Find out more! By talking to Jin! 😛 (


Jin Presenting RNA Salon 2020

Orthopaedic Research Society 2020

The past week Dr. Libo Zhou, our postdoc, attended ORS 2020 to present one of our research topics, titled “Anti-cancer Drug Delivery via DNA-inspired Janus-based Nanotubes”

ORS 2020 was held in Phoenix, Arizona on 8-11 February 2020. Dr. Zhou had some time to walk around Phoenix as well and she loved it! She went to Desert Garden and took a few pictures of special flora found only in the desert (which is hardly seen in the New England area!) The weather was also quite nice, according to her, it is a little dry but she loved it! 🙂


“Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) has been around for about 60 years helping and supporting engineers, surgeons, veterinarians, biologists, clinicians around the world in pursuit of a world without musculoskeletal limitations. Collaboration is needed to move the field of specialization within musculoskeletal research, forward.  Science and technology have pushed the field forward; whether related to improved care and treatment, early diagnoses of disease, improved techniques, improved instrumentation, medical devices, etc.  It is a partnership that moves science from bench to bedside.  The aging population will rely on the orthopaedic surgeon and their care to help them to sustain a high quality of life.  But, in the end, it all begins with the research.”

“The Journal of Orthopaedic Research (JOR)the official journal of the ORS, is the forum for the rapid publication of high-quality reports of new information on the full spectrum of orthopaedic research, including life sciences, engineering, translational, and clinical studies.”