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DNA as a new nano-construction material

The structure of DNA makes it possible to design DNA sequences that can spontaneously form objects through complementary nucleobase recognition. It makes DNA the most versatile construction material for nano-architectures.
DNA as a new nano-construction material
The use of modified nucleosides in nanotechnology is a new exciting trend with only few successful implementations of integrated functions being demonstrated so far. The EU-funded NANO-DNA (Functional DNA nanomaterials) project advanced this scientific field by incorporating designer molecules into chemically modified nucleosides to add specific function.

The first most challenging project task was the development of techniques for creating molecular wires along laid-out tracks on DNA templates. The researchers successfully synthesised these kind of wires using porphyrin DNA, and their future detailed evaluation will lay the foundation for creating nanoscale electronic wires with precision.

The DNA based scaffold proved to be an excellent starting material for nanoscale bio-templating for molecular electronic or plasmonic circuits. The scientists synthesised several similar systems with different number of porphyrin units attached to DNA. One of them was designed as a mediator in energy transfer between electronically active components in self-assembled light tubes and showed efficient energy transfer >20 nm. The second one was used as a wire for cross-membrane electron transport. This system was used to successfully create the smallest possible DNA based membrane nano-pore, and ion transport along the DNA through the membrane was shown.

Finally, the researchers demonstrated that porphyrin units can be applied for photodynamic cancer treatment to increase sensitivity. The introduction of modified porphyrins was achieved through enzymatic elongation of DNA chains by telomerase that causes immortality of cancer cells. Combining telomerase inhibition with photodynamic therapy produced promising results in terms of skin cancer therapeutic efficacy.

The project studies brought an entirely novel approach to the incorporation of the designer molecules with the goal to add specific programmed function. Future application of these systems would make ground breaking advances in electronics, photovoltaics and medicine.

Related information


DNA, nano-construction, modified nucleosides, NANO-DNA, porphyrin, photodynamic, cancer treatment
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