Materials science: lessons from embryonic development
Morphogenesis is the biological process responsible for producing the complex shapes of organisms from the blastocyst. It is a multistep process orchestrated by biomolecules known as morphogens. Inspired by morphogenesis, the EU-funded DNAGAM project is working towards the first-ever synthetic biocompatible material that can self-organise in a programmable and autonomous manner. The biomaterial incorporates a DNA-based chemical network capable of generating single-stranded DNA morphogens in a unique yet spatially predictable manner. The DNA morphogens will guide kinesin motor proteins and microtubules to form morphological structures within hydrogels. The project's results will not only provide invaluable insight into how morphogen patterns drive material self-organisation, but also expand materials science applications in soft robotics and biological environments.
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