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The self-assembled DNA functionalized nanostructure gives a large DNA surface density, one that is four fold larger than commonly used DNA functionalized gold nanoparticles. In the self-assembled state, as a result of the high surface density, DNA strands in the nanostructure shows high affinity and selectivity in binding to conjugate DNA strands when compared to the binding properties of these strands in bulk.
As a result of this enhanced response, these higher-order nanostructures can be useful as biomarkers and biosensors. The composite nanoparticle also displays a high affinity to internalize in biological cells, which can improve the efficacy of cancer therapeutics, including targeted drug delivery and gene therapy. The method is generic enough to allow the formulation of multifunctional hybrid nanoparticles, where additional functionality can be added from the heterogeneity in the composition of particles encapsulated.