Nanotechnology Advance Will Enable Cell-Based Drug Delivery in the Future

Nanotechnology will yield some of the biggest advances in medicine for the 21st century. It doesn’t receive as much attention as it should now — judging by the lack of press coverage and the lack of preemptive regulatory safeguards — but it will join the ranks of technology such as artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and quantum computers in its impact on society.

Scientists have invented a major new advance in DNA nanotechnology. Dubbed ‘single-stranded origami,’ their new strategy uses one long, thin noodle-like strand of DNA, or its chemical cousin RNA, that can self-fold — without even a single knot — into the largest, most complex structures to date. The strands forming these structures can be made inside living cells, opening up the potential for nanomedicine.

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This burgeoning field is called DNA origami. Scientist borrowed its moniker from the paper artists who conjure up birds, flowers and planes from imaginatively folding a single sheet of paper.

Similarly, DNA origami scientists are dreaming up a variety of shapes — at a scale one thousand times smaller than a human hair — that they hope will one day revolutionize computing, electronics and medicine.

Now, a team of Arizona State and Harvard scientists has invented a major new advance in DNA nanotechnology. Dubbed “single-stranded origami,” their new strategy uses one long, thin noodle-like strand of DNA, or its chemical cousin RNA, that can self-fold — -without even a single knot — into the largest, most complex structures to date.