Skip to main content

DNA origami allows for 3D-printed DNA bunnies to deliver medication

dna origami allows for 3d printed bunnies to deliver medication screen shot 2015 07 24 at 5 17 47 pm
A ball, a nicked torus, a rod, a helix, a waving stickman, a bottle, and a version of the Stanford bunny. (Högberg et al, 2015)
The airplane method works for getting food in young mouths, and now, the bunny method may be the best way to deliver drugs into patients’ bodies (regardless of age). Thanks to a couple particularly gifted practitioners of the “DNA origami” art form, scientists are now finding that they can fold DNA into very particular shapes by way of a 3D printing method that would help get medication to the right place without breaking down in the body. And to prove just how dexterous they were, scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden decided to create DNA bunnies using this method, because what’s a better way to demonstrate your skill as a scientist than to make a beloved childhood pet out of DNA?

In findings published in the journal Nature, scientists explained that 3D-modeling software allowed them to create DNA sequences that would automatically assemble themselves into various shapes, including but not limited to a bunny, a bottle, and a stick figure. In an interview with Tech Times, senior study author Björn Högberg said, “Controlling matter at the nanoscale is the fundamental problem of nanotechnology. If we can precisely control the arrangements of molecules at the nanoscale, there are many applications that can be envisioned.”

The implications of this capability are even more exciting, Högberg noted, “We are attaching proteins and other biomolecules to DNA nanostructures to create devices that can be used in biological research and potentially even therapeutics.” The real groundbreaking aspect of the Swedish team’s discovery is not necessarily in the folding of DNA itself, but rather in the newfound ability to automate the process, allowing scientists to create shapes that were previously impossible to synthesize. But now, thanks to their new algorithm, scientists are able to first come up with a shape, then run the program to see what list of DNA sequences could be combined (under the right temperatures and conditions) to actually yield that particular form.

Ultimately, the ability to produce these forms means that scientists will have new ways to use DNA to deliver medicine into patients’ bodies, without worrying about the structures disintegrating in the process. The new design possibilities have “more space between the helices … (which) makes it function better in a biological environment, such as inside the human body,” said a DNA scientist who observed the study.

And at the end of the day, Högberg believes, “These structures will be a guide for developing future research, including drug delivery systems, possibly in the next 5 to 10 years.”

Editors' Recommendations

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
NASA is testing a 3D printer that uses moon dust to print in space
The Redwire Regolith Print facility suite, consisting of Redwire's Additive Manufacturing Facility, and the print heads, plates and lunar regolith simulant feedstock that launches to the International Space Station.

The Redwire Regolith Print facility suite, consisting of Redwire's Additive Manufacturing Facility and the print heads, plates, and lunar regolith simulant feedstock that launches to the International Space Station. Redwire Space

When a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) this week, it carried a very special piece of equipment from Earth: A 3D printer that uses moon dust to make solid material.

Read more
The best 3D printers under $500
3D printers are finally affordable. Here are the best models under $500
anycubic photon review 3d printer xxl 2

The 3D printing market has seen quite a few changes over the last few years. In just the span of a decade, the barrier to entry has dropped from well over several thousand dollars to under $200 in some cases. However, all entry and mid-level printers are not made equal. We have a few suggestions for prospective buyers and other information regarding alternatives not found on this list.

To some veterans of the 3D printing scene, this list may seem like it lacks a few of the most commonly recommended printers for newcomers. This is by design. Our list only considers printers with tested components from proven, reliable vendors. That's why we chose the Monoprice MP Mini v2 as our top pick--it's reliable and easy to use. We have avoided any printer with a frame primarily made from interlocking acrylic pieces and anything historically unreliable.
Most bang for your buck: Monoprice MP Mini v2

Read more
Ceramic ink could let doctors 3D print bones directly into a patient’s body
ceramic ink 3d printed bones bioprinting australia 2

Scientists use a novel ink to 3D print ‘bone’ with living cells

The term 3D bioprinting refers to the use of 3D printing technology to fabricate biomedical parts that, eventually, could be used to create replacement organs or other body parts as required. While we’re not at that point just yet, a number of big advances have been made toward this dream over the past couple of decades.

Read more