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DNA Robots Designed In Minutes Instead of Days

Tuesday April 20, 2021. 04:02 AM , from Slashdot
Researchers have developed a tool that can design complex DNA robots and nanodevices in minutes instead of days. Phys.Org reports: In a paper published today in the journal Nature Materials, researchers from The Ohio State University -- led by former engineering doctoral student Chao-Min Huang -- unveiled new software they call MagicDNA. The software helps researchers design ways to take tiny strands of DNA and combine them into complex structures with parts like rotors and hinges that can move and complete a variety of tasks, including drug delivery. One advantage is that it allows researchers to carry out the entire design truly in 3-D. Earlier design tools only allowed creation in 2-D, forcing researchers to map their creations into 3-D. That meant designers couldn't make their devices too complex.

The software also allows designers to build DNA structures 'bottom up' or 'top down.' In 'bottom up' design, researchers take individual strands of DNA and decide how to organize them into the structure they want, which allows fine control over local device structure and properties. But they can also take a 'top down' approach where they decide how their overall device needs to be shaped geometrically and then automate how the DNA strands are put together. Combining the two allows for increasing complexity of the overall geometry while maintaining precise control over individual component properties. Another key element of the software is that it allows simulations of how designed DNA devices would move and operate in the real world.

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