Nucleic acid engineering: materials, properties, and applications

Date: 

2007

Summary: 

We are designing, synthesizing, and applying new materials and properties for nanotechnological, biological, and biomedical applications.

Issue: 

Our world is literally supported by synthetic polymers; our body is essentially determined by DNA. Our interest in using DNA as a novel, true polymer and to engineer it (nucleic acid engineering) is not only driven by academic curiosity, but also inspired by biology for engineering at the molecular level. Novel DNA-based materials and structures will have great impact for science, technology, and society as a whole.

Response: 

We have generated DNA dendrimers, DNA gels, including one that can produce proteins without any living cells, DNA liposomes, DNA nanoparticles, and other DNA-based materials and structures. Properties are being mapped and their applications in diverse fields (including nanotech, biotech, and biomed) are being pursued.

Impact: 

DNA nanobarcodes can be used to detect multiple pathogens simultaneously. A protype of a portable detector is being developed for use in the field. The DNA gels are capable of producing a variety of proteins without living cells in 24 hours. This is an enabling technology that might change the practice of protein manufacturing. DNA nanoparticles can be used to create nanowires, nanocrystals, and other nanostructures that might find applications in photonics, fuel cells, and electronics.

Submitted by: 

  • Luo, Dan

International focus: 

  • United States of America
  • China
  • France
  • Japan
  • Singapore

United States focus: 

  • New York