These nanoscale structures are made out of DNA – the molecule that resides in each nucleus of each cell in our bodies. But there is a difference. DNA in our cells exists as very long double-stranded helices. DNA used to build these shapes is in the form of short, single-strand DNA bricks, each with a unique computer-designed sequence allowing them to bind other bricks. Why would scientists use DNA to build nanoscale shapes, smiley faces and a space shuttle (bottom row, middle)? Although these particular shapes serve no purpose, the aim in building them was to show the versatility of possible DNA brick designs. Nanotechnologists could, in principle, use such bricks to build precise structures for encapsulating drugs to deliver to specific organs in the body, for controlling interactions between particular proteins in a cell, or for numerous other nanoscale applications.
Written by Ruth Williams
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