Thursday, November 5, 2015

Researchers Build Nanoscale Autonomous Walking Machine from DNA

Researchers have found a way to create a molecule that walks in a bipedal fashion along a bumpy surface. Using a single piece of DNA connected to two legs and a torso, this nanotechnology may be able to be used to find cancer cells. According to this article, there may soon be DNA walkers that walk around an organ, "constantly computing whether cancer is present," according to Andrew Ellington, a professor in the department of Molecular Biosciences.
Similar molecules had been synthesized in the past that were only able to walk in specific directions or on specific DNA sequences. For example, in a paper published by William B. Sherman and Nadrian C. Seeman, similar DNA motor molecules that are able to use a " pair with complementary strands of DNA." These molecules differ from the new molecules in that previously, there were specific locations they could move. The new molecules can move randomly in any direction over a bumpy surface, allowing them to be indiscriminant of what cells they land on. This allows them to randomly find what may be cancer cells and eventually to amplify them to notify their presence.They may also mean there is a future for nanoscale therapeutics.
This is so interesting to me because I remember in a high school biology class we watched a video of a molecule that walked along DNA, literally, with what appeared to be legs. To see that humans are able to recreate this with actual DNA molecules and that we can use it to our advantage is amazing.

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