Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Fashionable DNA
02 December 2012

Fashionable DNA

As if billowing in the breeze, this picture shows a piece of flapping fabric made almost entirely from human DNA. Roughly 20,000 times smaller than a shirt on a washing line, it was stitched together by a series of chemical reactions. Strips of tightly connected DNA molecules – called DNA nanotubes (highlighted in red and green here) – were strung together along thinner, flexible strands of DNA, giving the material a secret ability. Another chemical reaction locks the nanotubes in place like stuck slats in a window blind, instantly turning a draping cloth into a firm platform or support. Such shape-shifting fabrics might be just the thing to inject back into human bodies as biodegradable scaffolding to help our tissues repair. With many more important uses to explore for this DNA-based material, we’re unlikely to get around to making jeans out of genes any time soon.

Written by John Ankers

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