Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Create Custom Three-dimensional Structures with "DNA Origami"

22.05.2009
By combining the art of origami with nanotechnology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers have folded sheets of DNA into multilayered objects with dimensions thousands of times smaller than the thickness of a human hair.

These tiny structures could be forerunners of custom-made biomedical nanodevices such as "smart" delivery vehicles that would sneak drugs into patients' cells, where they would dump their cargo on a specific molecular target.

While creation of structures from single layers of DNA has been reported previously, William Shih, PhD, senior author of the study appearing in the May 21 issue of Nature, said the multi-layer process he and his colleagues developed should enable scientists to make customized DNA objects approximating almost any three-dimensional shape. Multilayered objects are more rigid and stable, thus better able to withstand the intracellular environment, which "is chaotic and violent, like being in a hurricane," Shih said. "We think this is a big advance."

Shih is a researcher in Dana-Farber’s Cancer Biology program. He is also an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, and a Core Faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard.

Masters of the ancient Japanese art of origami make a series of folds in a single piece of paper to form stunningly intricate models of animals and other shapes. "We focus on doing this with DNA," explained Shih. While DNA is best known as the stuff of which genes are made, here the scientists use long DNA molecules strictly as a building component, not a blueprint for making proteins. Shih and his colleagues reported in the Nature paper that they were able to construct a number of DNA objects, including a genie bottle, two kinds of crosses, a square nut, and a railed bridge.

DNA origami is an outgrowth of research in nanotechnology - using atoms and molecules as building blocks for new devices that can be deployed in medicine, electronics, and other fields. Scientists envision using the minuscule structures -- which are about the size of small viruses -- to mimic some of the "machines" within cells that carry out essential functions, like forming containers for molecular cargos and transporting them from one place to another.

"This is something that nature is very good at -- making many complex machines with great control. Nature optimizes cellular technology through millions of years of evolution; we don't have that much time, so we need to come up with other design approaches," Shih said.

DNA origami are built as a sheet of parallel double-helices, each consisting of two intertwined strands made up of units called nucleotides. Long strands of DNA serving as a "scaffold" are folded back and forth by short strands of DNA serving as "staples" that knit together segments of the scaffold. The DNA sheet, which Shih likens to the thin bamboo mat that sushi chefs use to prepare maki rolls with filling, is then programmed to curl on itself into a series of layers that are locked in place by staples that traverse multiple layers.

With the design in hand, the scientists then order the DNA staple strands from a company, which take about three days to be synthesized and shipped. Fabricating the desired structure involves mixing the DNA scaffold and staple strands, quickly heating the mixture, and then slowly cooling the sample. This process coaxes the DNA to "self-assemble" and make billions of copies of the desired object. The process takes about a week, though the researchers intend to improve this rate. Finally, the researchers can check the finished product using an electron microscope.

The tiny machines the researchers are aiming for could, for example, act as navigation aids to guide bubble-like sacs filled with medicines. "These machines could be placed on the outside of the drug-delivery vehicles to help them cross biological barriers, or help them outwit mechanisms that are trying to remove things from the bloodstream, so they can reach their target," suggested Shih.

The technology could also be useful in diagnostics of the future. While current lab tests can measure the concentration of different substances in the body, it may be possible with DNA "to measure the concentration of something within a single cell," said Shih.

In addition to Shih and Douglas, the authors of the Nature paper include Hendrik Dietz, PhD, Tim Liedl, PhD, Björn Högberg, PhD, and Franziska Graf, of Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Claudia Adams Barr Program, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, and several fellowships.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.dana-farber.org) is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.

Bill Schaller | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.dfci.harvard.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>