• chemotherapy;
  • cascade pathway reaction;
  • DNA/RNA nanostructure;
  • doxorubicin;
  • hyperthermal therapy


The majority of anticancer therapeutics have failed to control the target cancers. Thus, new rational design concepts are critical. In most of the biological reactions, a cascade pathway is used to activate appropriate responses. In the cascade pathway, a small signal derived from neighboring environments can be amplified and it further triggers overwhelming and specialized responses. It can be applied to achieve powerful therapeutic effects for novel drug design strategies. Inspired by this concept, we design a preferential dual anti-cancer therapeutic cassette composed of (i) DNA/RNA nanostructures as both anticancer containers and target ligands and (ii) a gold nanocrystal as localized heat inducers. We demonstrate that this multi-modular platform is superior to conventional cancer medications in that it had higher drug loading efficiency, tunable drug release, and intrinsic serum stability characteristics. Both doxorubicin chemotherapy and thermal ablation exert a powerful synergistic killing effect that resulted in prostate cancer regression both in vitro and in vivo. We speculate that our novel anti-cancer drug system can be adapted to effectively destroy many different types of solid cancers.