Self–assembling DNA ‘building blocks’ could create drug–delivery machines
Wyss Institute researchers have developed a method for building complex nanostructures out of short synthetic strands of DNA.
Called single–stranded tiles (SSTs), these interlocking DNA “building blocks,” akin to Legos, can be programmed to assemble themselves into precisely designed shapes, such as letters and emoticons.
Further development of the technology could make it possible to create new nanoscale devices — to deliver drugs directly to disease sites, for example.
In an emerging field of science known as DNA nanotechnology, DNA is being explored for use as a material for building tiny, programmable structures for diverse applications.
The researchers developed an alternative to conventional DNA origami (using a single long biological strand of DNA, which acts as a backbone along which smaller strands bind to its many different segments, to create shapes).
Instead of a long strand, each SST is a single, short strand of DNA. One tile will interlock with another tile if it has a complementary sequence of DNA. If there are no complementary matches, the blocks do not connect. In this way, a collection of tiles can assemble itself into specific, predetermined shapes through a series of interlocking local connections.
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