parallel_prankster writes: Scientists at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering said they have developed a robotic device made from DNA that could potentially seek specific cell targets and deliver important molecular instructions, such as telling cancer cells to self-destruct. The technology may some day be used to program immune responses to treat various diseases, they wrote in today’s issue of Science. Using the DNA origami method, in which complex three-dimensional shapes and objects are constructed by folding strands of DNA, the researchers created a nanosized robot that looks like an open barrel with its halves connected by a hinge. The DNA barrel, which acts as a container, is held shut by special DNA latches that can recognize and seek out combinations of cell-surface proteins, including disease markers. When the latches find their targets, they reconfigure, causing the two halves of the barrel to swing open and expose the contents or “payload.” The container can hold various types of payloads, including certain molecules with encoded instructions that can interact with specific cell surface signaling receptors. “We can finally integrate sensing and logical computing functions via complex, yet predictable, nanostructures—some of the first hybrids of structural DNA, antibodies, aptamers and metal atomic clusters—aimed at useful, very specific targeting of human cancers and T-cells,” George Church, a Wyss faculty member and principal investigator on the project, said in a statement.
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