There are many potential applications to our project. The nanojellyfish is designed to accomplish three tasks: first to capture the target compound, second to release package molecules upon capturing the target, and third undergo aggregation. This concept of capture, release, and aggregation can be applied to many fields, for example in medicine and experimental techniques. By changing the aptamers attached to the scaffold, we could easily change the target of the nanojellyfish, thus tailoring the nanojellyfish to the purpose of the task involved.
Nanojellyfish was designed to target the influenza virus in this project, with the core concept of capturing pathogens and releasing immune-stimulatory molecules in the process. This idea could be applied to treat other forms of diseases, in particular those without viable vaccines. For example, we could target HIV by changing the aptamer to one that targets its capsid protein gp120. Unlike antiretroviral drugs that target the virus while they are undergoing replication inside cells, the nanojellyfish would neutralize the virus even before they enter cells, thus providing an effective hindrance to viral replication. Similarly, other deadly diseases such as dengue fever and malaria could be potentially treated using our design, subjected to available aptamers.
With the rapid advancement of technology and research methodologies, lab research has improved greatly over the years, both in terms of speed and accuracy. However, our nanojellyfish could further improve the procedures involved in research work. For example, biological assays could be conducted with considerably more ease, without the use of protein-based antibodies, which may be hard to prepare and store. Our DNA-based nanojellyfish could serve a similar purpose in bioassays, and yet with greater preparation ease and higher storage stability. Besides, protein purification could be further enhanced in terms of simplicity and yield just by attaching aptamers complementary to the protein of interest. In fact, any compounds that are hard to isolate could be extracted using our design, if corresponding aptamers are available. The ability to aggregate upon target binding makes our device particularly noteworthy, and would certainly improve and speed up experimental techniques such as bioassays and protein purification.