Multifunctional quantum dot DNA hydrogels

Libing Zhang, Sae Rin Jean, Sharif Ahmed, Peter M. Aldridge, Xiyan Li, Fengjia Fan, Edward H. Sargent*, Shana O. Kelley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Biotemplated nanomaterials offer versatile functionality for multimodal imaging, biosensing, and drug delivery. There remains an unmet need for traceable and biocompatible nanomaterials that can be synthesized in a precisely controllable manner. Here, we report self-assembled quantum dot DNA hydrogels that exhibit both size and spectral tunability. We successfully incorporate DNA-templated quantum dots with high quantum yield, long-term photostability, and low cytotoxicity into a hydrogel network in a single step. By leveraging DNA-guided interactions, we introduce multifunctionality for a variety of applications, including enzyme-responsive drug delivery and cell-specific targeting. We report that quantum dot DNA hydrogels can be used for delivery of doxorubicin, an anticancer drug, to increase potency 9-fold against cancer cells. This approach also demonstrated high biocompatibility, trackability, and in vivo therapeutic efficacy in mice bearing xenografted breast cancer tumors. This work paves the way for the development of new tunable biotemplated nanomaterials with multiple synergistic functionalities for biomedical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number381
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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