Silencing RNA for Cosmetic Effects

Mar 1, 2013 | Contact Author | By: Steven Isaacman, PhD, Nanometics LLC; Michael Isaacman, University of California Santa Barbara; and Justin M. Holub, PhD, Yale University
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Title: Silencing RNA for Cosmetic Effects
RNAix siRNAx SNA-NCx skin lighteningx deliveryx enzymesx
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RNA interference (RNAi) is a gene-silencing technique that inhibits gene expression by causing the intracellular degradation of mRNA molecules. Since first reported in 1998, RNAi has sparked a revolution in molecular biology and has been employed in a myriad of biological contexts for the systematic evaluation of gene function. The ability to selectively regulate the activity of specific genes within a given biological location represents a methodology by which researchers can upregulate or downregulate protein expression.

Controlling gene expression through RNAi typically involves the use of double-stranded RNA molecules that are between 20–25 base pairs long. Dubbed “small interfering” or “silencing” RNA (siRNA), these oligonucleotides interfere with native gene expression by binding to complementary strands of messenger RNA (mRNA) to form complexes that are then degraded by the cell’s natural machinery before protein translation can occur. While the exact mechanism of siRNA-mediated gene suppression is complex, siRNAs can potentially be used to selectively disrupt the expression of any gene within a given genome. Recently, RNAi-based approaches have been gaining traction as promising modalities to inhibit viral infection and cancer proliferation in humans. However, while targeted gene suppression by siRNA has shown promising clinical results for certain applications, consistent delivery of siRNA to specific targets in vivo has remained a difficult challenge.

The potential impact that siRNA technology can have on the multi- billion dollar skin care market cannot be overstated. The epidermis is the body’s largest organ and, by some assessments, the most accessible when using topical delivery agents. Overall, the field of gene therapy has been plagued by inefficient delivery of potent gene-silencers and off-target effects, drastically limiting the development of therapeutic siRNAs. Despite these setbacks, this situation represents a unique opportunity for the cosmetic scientist to develop revolutionary products that are capable of preventing or treating debilitating skin disorders.

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Figure 1. The formulation of spherical nucleic acid nanoparticle conjugates (SNA-NCs)

Figure 1. The formulation of spherical nucleic acid nanoparticle conjugates (SNA-NCs)

siRNA-based nanoparticle constructs are formed by covalently linking therapeutic siRNAs to the surface of spherical gold nanoparticles that are approximately 13 nm in diameter

Biography: Justin Holub, PhD, Yale University

Justin M. Holub, PhD, is a post-doctoral research associate at Yale University, where he develops high throughput screening methods aimed to clarify the mechanisms of cytosolic delivery of cell-penetrating molecules. He received his doctorate in biomolecular chemistry from New York University, where he designed and fabricated bioactive multivalent peptidomimetics. Holub is also a consultant for Nanometics, where his expertise and background have facilitated the development of novel materials for personal care and pharmaceuticals.  


a Lipofectamine is a line of transfection reagents manufactured by Life Technologies, Grand Island, N.Y., USA.
b ExGen 500 is a product manufactured by Thermo Fisher Scientific, Waltham, Ma., USA.
c Aquaphor is a product manufactured by Beiersdorf, Hamburg, Germany.
d Britena Whitening & Anti-blotch Cream is a product manufactured by Genecon Biotech, a subsidiary of Biomics Biotechnologies Co., Ltd., Nantong, China.

Biography: Steven Isaacman, PhD, Nanometics LLC

Steven Isaacman, PhD, earned a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Stony Brook University, and a Master of Science and doctorate in physical organic chemistry from New York University, where his research involved the design and fabrication of single molecule magnets, chiral molecular switches and self-assembling nano-architectures. In 2006, he founded Nanometics LLC and is the principal investigator on two small business innovation research awards from the National Institutes of Health. In addition, he is a visiting scholar at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and New York University. As founder and CEO at Nanometics, he leads the research team in designing novel small molecules, polymers and materials for the personal care and pharmaceutical markets.

Biography: Michael Isaacman, PhD, Nanometics, LLC

Michael Isaacman, PhD, graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on the synthesis and self-assembling dynamics of silicone-based amphiphilic block copolymers. As an expert in silicone chemistry, he has pioneered novel methodologies for the design and fabrication of silicone polymers for use in drug delivery and personal care. A consultant for the personal care and pharmaceutical industry, he has published in the fields of natural product synthesis, pollutant metal detection and polymer chemistry.

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