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Building 3D Nanostructures with Synthetic DNA

Harvard professor explains how to programme complex oligo structures for new applications 

Decoded MagazineThe quarterly newsletter DECODED, from Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) explores the work of Dr Pen Yin, assistant professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School, who is harnessing the base pairing properties of DNA to create 3D structures of “DNA bricks”. This new nano-construction technique is based on short DNA oligos, which assemble at right-angles to interlocking sequences, forming 3D units. With such a heavy dependency on oligonucleotide quality, Dr Yin has relied on IDT. These DNA bricks are inspiring many future applications, such as catalysts and drug compounds, and can eventually be used to create electrical circuit boards on the nanometer scale. 

When compared to similar technologies (e.g. DNA Origami), the DNA bricks have a highly modular structure, which means they are easier to use. Where virtually carving the shape is possible by adding or removing specific voxels (10 x 10 x 10 cubes), it will be interesting to see where this innovative nanostructure technology will lead.

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