Self-constructed DNA nanostructures can be utilized in molecular-scale diagnostics and as wise drug-delivery vehicles.
Investigators from Aalto University have presented an article in the recent Trends in Biotechnology journal. The content talks about how DNA molecules can be assembled into tailored and complex nanostructures, and additionally, how these components can help uncover uses in therapeutics and bionanotechnological applications. In the review article, the scientists summarize the outstanding properties of DNA nanostructures, and how these characteristics allow the development of powerful biological DNA-nanomachines. In addition, these DNA nanostructures offer new applications in molecular medicine, such as novel techniques in dealing with cancer. Tailored DNA structures could find specific cells and release their molecular payload (drugs or antibodies) precisely into these cells.
Postdoctoral researcher Veikko Linko explains,
“These days, software and techniques to design and imitate DNA nanostructures are incredibly powerful and user-friendly, and therefore, investigators can simply build their own DNA-objects for numerous uses. The big boom in the area of structural DNA nanotechnology took place in 2006, when Paul Rothemund launched a technique known as ‘DNA origami’. This technique is the beginning point for practically all other straightforward design strategies accessible today”, explains Veikko Linko.
Versatile DNA nanostructures
The most significant function of a DNA-based nanostructure is its modularity. DNA structures can be fabricated with nanometer-precision, and very importantly, other elements such as RNA, proteins, peptides and medicines can be attached to them with the same resolution. These can be exploited in developing nanosized optical devices along with molecular platforms and barcodes for different imaging methods and analytics. In addition, the scientists from Aalto University and University of Jyväskylä have lately shown how DNA origamis can be utilized in efficient fabrication of custom shaped metal nanoparticles that could be applied in numerous areas of material sciences.
For molecular medication, tiny DNA-based devices could be used not only in discovering single molecules but also in modulating cell signaling. In the coming future, extremely sophisticated DNA-robots could be even used in developing artificial immune systems. A system dependent on tailored DNA-devices could assist to avoid needless drug therapies, since programmed DNA-nanorobots could identify numerous agents from the blood stream, and instantly begin the battle against disease.
Innovative approach to make nanomaterials
The research team lead by Professor Mauri Kostiainen works substantially with DNA nanostructures, and the team has just lately released two research articles concerning DNA-based applications in biotechnology and molecular medicine. The investigators have coated DNA nanostructures with virus capsid proteins in order to considerably enhance their transport to human cells; this could discover uses for example in improved drug delivery. In inclusion, the group has developed a modular DNA-based enzymatic nanoreactor that can be utilized in diagnostics at the molecular scale level.