DNA might sound like a surprising choice for a building material. Yet by folding it up in different ways, DNA origami has produced tiny nanostructures designed to deliver drugs inside our bodies or to act as scaffolding beside a repairing tissue. Pictured here, a new DNA device is being developed to bore tiny tunnels into living cells. The diagram on the left shows lengths of DNA (in red) forming a hollow tube that can pierce through a cell’s membrane, producing a man-made gateway or pore. Other fragments of DNA are assembled into a honeycomb-shaped cap, forming a ‘seal’ which locks the pore to the surface of the cell. This man-made channel (shown from three different perspectives in the microscope pictures on the right) might one day be used to conduct electrical impulses into our cells, possibly supplying power to other man-made devices working hard on the inside.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.