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DNA smart glue could fix organs together

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.

These particles can be generated from a 3D printer. 3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes

The proto-DNA adhesive has allowed scientists to control how the different gels come together. Further work is needed; however, the trials to date are very promising.

The findings have been reported to the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering. The paper is titled “3D Printing with Nucleic Acid Adhesives.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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