Nanotechnologists are using DNA, the genetic material present in living organisms, as well as its multifunctional cousin RNA, as the raw material in efforts to build miniscule devices that could potentially function as drug delivery vehicles, tiny nanofactories for the production of pharmaceuticals and chemicals and highly sensitive elements of electric and optical technologies. A novel approach by a collaborative team of researchers from the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering, Arizona State University and Autodesk for the first time enables the design of complex single-stranded DNA and RNA origami that can autonomously fold into diverse, stable, user-defined structures. In contrast to the synthesis of multi-stranded nanostructures, these entirely new types of origami are folded from one single strand, which can be replicated in living cells. This allows for potential low-cost production at large scales and with high purities, opening entirely new opportunities for diverse applications such as drug delivery and nanofabrication.
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