Harvard’s Wyss Institute researchers have developed a novel robotic device from DNA. The device has the capability to target specific cells and instructs them for self destruction, especially the cancerous cells.
Dr. Shawn Douglas, a Technology Development Fellow in Wyss Institute, and Dr. Ido Bachelet, Assistant Professor at Faculty of Sciences and Nano-Centre in University of Bar-Ilan, Israel and a former PDF of Wyss, developed a robot of nano size using the DNA origami technique, which can construct complicated 3-D structures by folding DNA strands.
The bisected open barrel robot is attached together by a hinge. Interactions with signal receptors on target cell surface can be carried out by specific molecules present in the barrel. These molecules contain instructions for self destruction. Unique DNA latches have been designed to close the barrel and these latches search and identify the target cell surface proteins, which also include disease markers. Once the target cell is identified, the latches reconfigure by which the barrel will open and release the contents.
Two different types of cancerous cells, lymphoma and leukemia, can be destructed using this system. In both types of cells, the suicide switch, which enables removal of abnormal or aging cells, will be activated. The instructions for this destruction will be programmed in different antibodies. The nanorobot enhances the signal transmission of WBCs for self destruction of target cells.
Similar to the chassis of a vehicle that can hold various tires and engines, the nanorobot can hold various molecular instructions and hinges. Due to this capability, the nanorobots may be employed for treatment of various diseases in the future.
The difficulty of using DNA as a drug carrier has been overcome by this method. When compared to other methods, the proteins are targeted instead of DNA or RNA. There is no necessity of opening and closing the system, instead, in one step the contents can be loaded from the sides of the system. The usage of antibody fragments for self destruction is an added advantage in this DNA-origami method.