Operation Tiny

Cancer cell destruction sequence initiated. Pew pew! 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Needles sting; pills can be hard to swallow! Ever imagine a future in which tiny robots deliver medicine inside our bodies? Well that future starts NOW!

Inspired by hinges and pistons, scientists are making nano-scale robots out of DNA! Think robots one thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair!

To design DNA robots, scientists have two approaches. They can sketch out the overall shape, then program software that designs all the pieces. This process is fast, but it only makes rigid structures. Alternatively, they can use software that helps design each piece individually. Slower, but it can make moving parts.

Now Chao-Min Huang and colleagues from Ohio State University have a game changer! 

Their new program, MagicDNA, combines the best of BOTH methods! This allows users to create much more complex devices in a fraction of the time! 

Speed AND precision – one giant leap towards the design of tiny medicine delivery bots! 

Now if they could only do housework too . . . thank you, Roomba!

Reference: Huang, C.-M., Kucinic, A., Johnson, J. A., Su, H.-J., & Castro, C. E. (2021). Integrated computer-aided engineering and design for DNA assemblies. Nature Materials. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-021-00978-5

Photo: Image from referenced article.