Spherical Nucleic Acids as Precision Therapeutics for the Treatment of Cancer—From Bench to Bedside

Akanksha S. Mahajan, Alexander H. Stegh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Spherical Nucleic Acids (SNAs) emerged as a new class of nanotherapeutics consisting of a nanoparticle core densely functionalized with a shell of radially oriented synthetic oligonu-cleotides. The unique three-dimensional architecture of SNAs protects the oligonucleotides from nuclease-mediated degradation, increases oligonucleotide bioavailability, and in the absence of aux-iliary transfection agents, enables robust uptake into tumor and immune cells through polyvalent association with cell surface pattern recognition receptors. When composed of gene-regulatory small interfering (si)RNA or immunostimulatory DNA or RNA oligonucleotides, SNAs silence gene expression and induce immune responses superior to those raised by the oligonucleotides in their “free” form. Early phase clinical trials of gene-regulatory siRNA-based SNAs in glioblas-toma (NCT03020017) and immunostimulatory Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9)-agonistic SNAs carrying unmethylated CpG-rich oligonucleotides in solid tumors (NCT03086278) have shown that SNAs represent a safe, brain-penetrant therapy for inhibiting oncogene expression and stimulating immune responses against tumors. This review focuses on the application of SNAs as precision cancer therapeutics, summarizes the findings from first-in-human clinical trials of SNAs in solid tumors, describes the most recent preclinical efforts to rationally design next-generation multimodal SNA architectures, and provides an outlook on future efforts to maximize the anti-neoplastic activity of the SNA platform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1615
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


  • Cancer vaccine development
  • Nanotechnology
  • RNA interference (RNAi)
  • Spherical Nucleic Acids (SNAs)
  • Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Spherical Nucleic Acids as Precision Therapeutics for the Treatment of Cancer—From Bench to Bedside'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this