Scientists developed an innovative nanoplatform to more effectively deliver RNA interference (RNAi) to anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) sites. ATC is the most aggressive form of thyroid cancer; mortality is almost 100% and median survival is 3 to 5 months. This initial research has had promising results in mouse models.1

Although RNAi is a promising strategy to treat ATC, delivering RNAi to tumor sites has been challenging.

“We call this a theranostic platform because it brings a therapy and a diagnostic together in 1 functional nanoparticle,” said Jinjun Shi, PhD, assistant professor in the Anesthesia Department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, and co-senior author of this study. “We expect this study to pave the way for the development of theranostic platforms for image-guided RNAi delivery to advanced cancers.”

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The nanoparticle has a fluorescent label attached to it that allowed the researchers to see that the RNAi was delivered to the tumor in a mouse model of ATC. This nanoparticle strategy is showing significant promise at overcoming the suboptimal delivery of RNAi agents to tumors.

“Most patients who present to surgeons with anaplastic thyroid cancer are out of options and this new research gives these patients some options. Having an approach that allows us to rapidly visualize and simultaneously deliver a targeted therapy could be critical for the efficient treatment of this disease and other lethal cancers with a poor prognosis,” said Sareh Parangi, MD, associate professor in the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Surgery, and co-senior author of this study.


1. Liu Y, Gunda V, Zhu X, et al. Theranostic near-infrared fluorescent nanoplatform for imaging and systemic siRNA delivery to metastatic anaplastic thyroid cancer. PNAS. 2016 Jun 24. doi:10.1073/pnas.1605841113 [Epub ahead of print]