Researchers are working on creating a so-called DNA ‘smart glue’ that could one day be used to hold together 3-D-printed materials, such as tissues or even organs grown in the laboratory.
DNA molecules are best known for providing the “source code” for life in humans, plants, and animals. Beyond this, there may be another application of the life-code. In the past, scientists have used nucleic acids such as DNA to put together objects, most of these constructions have been nano-sized. To date, constructing larger, visible objects is cost-prohibitive. There are also limitations in terms of the flexibility in the types of materials produced. If these obstacles can be overcome, then producing tissues to repair injuries or creating organs for organ transplants would represent a medical revolution.
To move towards this, scientists developed DNA-coated nanoparticles made of either polystyrene or polyacrylamide. With the process, DNA binding adhered to these inexpensive nanoparticles to each other, forming gel-like materials. The process is a type of self-assembly system in which bricks of biocompatible, biodegradable gels called hydrogels assembled into complex structures. In future applications, small hydrogel bricks containing human cells could potentially be injected into the body. … (read more)