Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have used 3D-modeling software in order to create DNA origami. This technology may be used in drug delivery and even in cancer treatments. The paper was published in the journal Nature.
Researchers Björn Högberg and Erik Benson used the self-assembling properties of DNA in order to develop intricate structures with the help of helical strands. Using 3D-modeling software for guidance the sequences of DNA spontaneously took the shape of a bunny, a sick figure or a bottle. The structure of DNA was discovered only 60 years ago and the fact that the components of DNA have chemical properties which enable them to spontaneously take the intricate shape of a double helix was a revolutionary one.
DNA origami is created through a process similar to 3D printing in the sense that it involves using a computer to draw a digital 3D model. That is why the technique was referred to as 3D printing DNA. However in order to develop the objects this technique also takes into account the chemical properties of the DNA and it is rather an automatic DNA origami than 3D printing.
Björn Högberg from Karolinska Institute remarked:
“Controlling matter at the nanoscale is the fundamental problem of nanotechnology. If we can precisely control the arrangements of molecules at the nanoscale, there are many applications that can be envisioned.”
He also explained that they attached biomolecules and proteins to DNA nanostructures in order to develop devices which can be used in biological research and therapeutics.
When the shape of the object is finalized the software offers the user a DNA sequence which represents the four amino acids that form the genetic code. After the bits of DNA arrive from a DNA synthesis company they need to be mixed together in a test tube under specific conditions. The structure will take the shape of what you created using the 3D software.
What makes this technique successful is the fact that the structures are able to endure salt concentrations similar to the ones found in the human body. Thus they can be used in experiments that closely resemble the conditions of our bodies. This could not be simply done in past versions of DNA origami.
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