Researchers at the University of Texas in Austin have created a “Smart Glue” using DNA. It is a bit more complicated than that but the experiment consisted of producing a synthetic plastic material that is held together by DNA and then shaped by a 3D printer to a specific structure shape and size. The hope is that this method can be used to create new tissue and organs for patients. The DNA “glue” then grows via the synthetic scaffolding to a fully formed and developed tissue or organ that is then able to be used for a specific patient. Here is an excerpt from an article published at www.acs.org.
“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…” “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.”
This new research is truly a synergy between electronic technologies currently in use and biotechnology that is breaking new ground in healing people like never before. This approach to repairing damaged tissue or replacing problematic organs may be years away from fruition but it offers tremendous hope for people with life altering disabilities and life threatening conditions.
Photo Description: DNA glue holds together this 3-D printed gel, a precursor step to building tissues.
Photo courtesy of American Chemical Society