Our research focuses on controlling materials at the 100-nanometer scale and investigating their size and shape-dependent properties. We have developed massively parallel, multi-scale nanopatterning tools to generate noble metal (plasmonic) structures that can manipulate visible light at the nanoscale. We are focusing on multi-scale, anisotropic, and 3D plasmonic materials for applications in imaging, sensing, and cancer therapeutics.
Apt-AuNS nanoconstructs composed of two primary components, an anisotropic gold nanostar (AuNS) core and a shell of secondary structure aptamer, AS1411, have shown great potential in cancer treatment. The high density of AS1411 that comprise the shell results in a high local concentration and enhances the therapeutic properties of the nanoconstructs. We have recently described a simple method to even further enhance this in vitro efficacy. In a low pH buffer environment, the loading density of the G-quadruplex AS1411 on AuNS was 2.5-times higher than that obtained from a conventional salt-aging process. The highly loaded AuNS nanoconstructs (*Apt-AuNS) were taken up in cancer cells at a much faster rate and at twice the amount compared to their lower-loading counterparts. This effective uptake of AS1411 in the form of *Apt-AuNS, increased the percentage of cancer cell death by over 40%. Our current results suggest that increasing the loading density of therapeutic molecules on AuNS could provide a simple means to improve uptake as well as in vitro efficacy of the nanoconstructs in cancer cells.