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DNA 'smart glue' could someday be used to build tissues, organs

Date:
January 14, 2015
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
DNA molecules provide the 'source code' for life in humans, plants, animals and some microbes. But now researchers report an initial study showing that the strands can also act as a glue to hold together 3-D-printed materials that could someday be used to grow tissues and organs in the lab.
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DNA glue holds together this 3-D printed gel, a precursor step to building tissues.
Credit: American Chemical Society

DNA molecules provide the "source code" for life in humans, plants, animals and some microbes. But now researchers report an initial study showing that the strands can also act as a glue to hold together 3-D-printed materials that could someday be used to grow tissues and organs in the lab. This first-of-its-kind demonstration of the inexpensive process is described in the brand-new journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.

Andrew Ellington and colleagues explain that although researchers have used nucleic acids such as DNA to assemble objects, most of these are nano-sized -- so tiny that humans can't see them with the naked eye. Making them into larger, visible objects is cost-prohibitive. Current methods also do not allow for much control or flexibility in the types of materials that are created. Overcoming these challenges could potentially have a big payoff -- the ability to make tissues to repair injuries or even to create organs for the thousands of patients in need of organ transplants. With this in mind, Ellington's group set out to create a larger, more affordable material held together with DNA.

The researchers developed DNA-coated nanoparticles made of either polystyrene or polyacrylamide. DNA binding adhered these inexpensive nanoparticles to each other, forming gel-like materials that they could extrude from a 3-D printer. The materials were easy to see and could be manipulated without a microscope. The DNA adhesive also allowed the researchers to control how these gels came together. They showed that human cells could grow in the gels, which is the first step toward the ultimate goal of using the materials as scaffolds for growing tissues.


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Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Peter B. Allen , Zin Khaing , Christine E. Schmidt , and Andrew D. Ellington. 3D Printing with Nucleic Acid Adhesives. ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng., 2015 DOI: 10.1021/ab500026f

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "DNA 'smart glue' could someday be used to build tissues, organs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150114115512.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2015, January 14). DNA 'smart glue' could someday be used to build tissues, organs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150114115512.htm
American Chemical Society. "DNA 'smart glue' could someday be used to build tissues, organs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150114115512.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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