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Autonomous DNA Walker Created

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 03:34PM

Nanomachines likely conjure up images of tiny electronic devices from science fiction with interesting medical applications. The true form of nanomachines though may not be electronic, but look a bit more like a famous double-helix molecule. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have created a nanomachine from DNA that can walk.

Nanoparticle walkers have been created before, but these only had the ability to walk along predetermined paths. This new DNA walker instead makes random movements, literally picking its feet up and putting them down randomly, but still does not cover the same area twice. It was only able to take 36 steps, but that still adds up to one important step to eventually creating machines for exploring our bodies to watch out for various diseases, including cancers.

While more work is going to be needed, we can already envision applications such as having DNA walkers exploring the body and amplifying signals from cancer cells. This will allow doctors to more easily detect cancers, and perhaps one day use other walkers to deliver medicine directly where it is needed.

Source: University of Texas at Austin

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