DNA Origami Nano-Machines Could One Day Swim Through Your Bloodstream

The very first molecular electric motor based on DNA origami has been created by a team of researchers. Generic components self-assemble into a device that can take electrical energy and turn it into motion. The position and speed of revolution can be controlled by scientists, and the new nanomotors can be turned on and off.

Natural molecular motors are tiny but crucial in our physiology. The chemical adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is used for both conservation and short-term transmission of energy, and is produced by a motor protein called ATP synthase. Despite the importance of natural molecular components like ATP synthase, it has been difficult to develop motors of this size with mechanical characteristics somewhat equivalent to those of molecular biological components.

DNA, which is genetic material, is the sole molecular motor. The DNA origami technique was used to construct the motor from individual DNA strands. Many shorter individual DNA strands are linked to these longer ones to form pairs. The DNA motifs are chosen such that the coupled strands, as well as the folds, form the desired nanostructures.

They’ve been working on this crafting technique for a while now, and it’s advanced to the point where they can create very complex objects like molecular switching devices or hollow entities that can trap viruses. Objects will self-assemble if you place the appropriate DNA combinations in a solution.

Future technological uses of the new engine are possible. Taking inspiration from the enzyme ATP synthase, which produces ATP by rotation, we may one day be able to use this engine to power chemical processes of our own design. In this way, such motors could be used to cover surfaces with a thick layer. Then you put in the raw components, give them AC power, and the motors produce the finished chemical.

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