Posted in chemistry, medical imaging

Nanoscale origami

Ripped directly from 80Beats at Discover magazine (which was also pieced together from other news articles):

“In a masterful work of “DNA origami,” researchers have created a nanoscale DNA “box” which can be opened with DNA “keys”. One day, such structures could be filled with drugs, injected into the blood, and then unlocked when and where the drugs are required [New Scientist]. Researchers say the boxes could also be used as minuscule environmental sensors that open or close in response to a stimulus, or as the logic gates of a DNA-based computer.

“To fashion a lid that could be either locked shut or opened with DNA keys, lead researcher Jørgen Kjems and his team fashioned two tiny DNA latches with sticky ends. Under normal circumstances, the latches adhere to the box, holding it shut. But when the two corresponding DNA keys are added, the latches bind to those instead, allowing the lid to swing open. A pair of dye molecules, one affixed to the box’s rim and another to its lid, glow red when close together and green when far apart, providing an easy way to detect whether a box is closed or open [Technology Review]. Kjems’s team is the first to boost the technology into three dimensions.”

What struck me though were also the possibilities for nano-origami. 80 Beats calls it “origami” in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, but I’m serious. For one thing, origami as a technique has several applications in science and medicine (getting a big thing through a small hole, for example), so using science and medical techniques to create origami shapes is fantastic!



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.