Researchers at INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale) in France, and collaborators, have developed a DNA-based nanorobot called the Nano-winch. The tiny creation is made using DNA molecules and a “DNA Origami” approach. The tiny robot is so small that it can land on a cell surface and interact with ‘mechanoreceptors’ that the cell uses to sense mechanical forces acting on it.
The robots can apply tiny forces to the mechanoreceptors, allowing the researchers to measure the biochemical and molecular changes that result. While the technology is certainly useful for basic cellular research, it may also pave the way for similar nanorobots with medical applications, given its ability to interact with specific cellular receptors.
It seems that every week someone develops a new nano- or microrobot that can perform tasks hitherto considered within the realm of science fiction. These breakthroughs could well herald a new era in medicine, with swarms of tiny machines performing an array of complex medical procedures within the body. This latest technology follows this trend, with the ability to land on the cell surface and delicately apply a tiny force to specific cellular receptors.
The researchers describe their creation as a “programmable DNA origami-based molecular actuator” and have called it the Nano-winch. It consists of three DNA origami structures and can land on the cell surface and apply a force of 1 piconewton to a cellular receptor. To put this in perspective, this is 1 trillionth of a Newton, and 1 Newton is approximately the force exerted by your finger when you click the top of a pen.Continue reading… “DNA-Based Nanorobot Interacts with Live Cells”