Scientists Use Origami to Make Nanoscale Models…with DNA
7. 22. 15 by Andrew Tieu
- Folding DNA origami may sound tedious and strange, but it is an important technique for researchers. By producing small, precise structures on a nano-scale, they are able to interact with human cells and molecules. This allows the structures to do specialized functions, such as binding to cancer cells to stop them from reproducing.
- Researchers have recently discovered a way to precisely build these complex structures, drawing inspiration from the Seven Bridges of Konigsberg problem. The problem details that Konigsberg has seven bridges throughout the city, and asks if it is possible to walk through the city crossing every bridge once (and only once).
- This technique allows scientists to “3-D print” the structure using DNA by first creating a polygonal diagram of it with normal 3-D printing software, then calculating the optimal pathing using their new algorithm, and finally creating it with DNA. To maximize structural strength and detail, the DNA needs to cover each edge of the polygonal structure and not double over itself.
- Before this discovery, the shapes were limited to large blocks as opposed to the small and detailed nanostructures of today. Still, the team has to find an easy way to “print” out the structure, since it requires strenuously ordering and pipetting the DNA. However, the discovery opens up many possibilities in the world of nanostructure research for scientists.