Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Laughing Man » Sat May 15, 2010 9:23 am

American scientists say that they have created tiny robot spiders or "walkers", each one of which is a single complicated molecule fashioned out of DNA. They have managed to get the molecular nanorobospiders to follow a trail of DNA "breadcrumbs".

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The sticking-up bits are the breadcrumbs, the red thing is the target

The central body of the spider is a protein molecule called streptavidin, which has the handy property of coming with four attachment pockets into which can be plugged a "chemical moiety" called biotin. The legs of the spider are fashioned of DNA strands tipped with biotin. (These are four-legged spiders.)

The clever bit comes in the DNA legs. Three of these are designed to bind their other end onto a particular other sort of DNA, cutting it and then so freeing themselves again.

"In normal robotics, the robot itself contains the knowledge about the commands, but with individual molecules, you can't store that amount of information, so the idea instead is to store information on the commands on the outside," says chemistry prof Nils Walter.
Walter and other top nanospider experts did this by attaching bits of the type of DNA favoured by the waving spidery legs to a chain of molecular origami scaffolding, itself a tricky piece of scientistry.

Releasing a spider at the start of the trail of DNA breadcrumbs, its waving tentacles would seek out the tempting treats and so pull the nanomachine forward. As each "leg" bonded to a "breadcrumb" it then cut itself free and began to seek out another.
Using a cunning mixture of atomic force microscopy and single-molecule fluorescence microscopy the assembled scientists were able to watch their nanomachines at work.

Previous DNA walkers could take only two or three steps, apparently, but "this one," says biochemistry prof Hao Yan, "can walk up to about 100 nanometers. That's roughly 50 steps."

The idea is that with the tools and techniques developed in studies like this, scientists will be able in future to carry out some amazing feats.
"You could imagine the spider carrying a drug and bonding to a two-dimensional surface like a cell membrane, finding the receptors and, depending on the local environment," adds Yan, "triggering the activation of this drug."

That kind of thing could offer a cure for cancer, as nanobots would be able to attach to cells, tell if they were malignant, and if so kill them.
Alternatively, legions of nanobots could be used to craft elaborately tailored molecules or nanoscale structures, creating drugs, circuitry or materials with new properties - or repairing damaged tissues within the body.

"This may be 100 years in the future," warns prof Milan Stojanovicm who worked with Walter and Yan on the recent nanobotics effort. "We're so far from that right now."

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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Tsukiyumi » Sat May 15, 2010 9:26 am

That rocks, but:

(These are four-legged spiders.)


Then, they aren't spiders. :lol:
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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Laughing Man » Sat May 15, 2010 9:40 am

I missed that one! :headbanger: A little early perhaps!

The Robotics Institute of America defines a robot as a "re-programmable multi-functional manipulator designed to move materials, parts, tools, or specialized devices through variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks." so not technically a robot yet either!
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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Sionnach Glic » Sat May 15, 2010 11:35 am

That's really cool. Amazing to see the sort of stuff we can do these days.

But yeah, neither a spider nor robotic. :P
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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Nickswitz » Sat May 15, 2010 12:30 pm

And yet it's just as awesome as if it were either.

Seriously, this is awesome! I hope they can learn to do a lot more with these "nano-walkers".
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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Mikey » Sat May 15, 2010 4:51 pm

Fuck the Jetsons cars - this is the future we were promised.
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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Lighthawk » Sat May 15, 2010 8:21 pm

Awesome, utterly.
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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Monroe » Tue May 18, 2010 6:32 am

Watch out for a gray goo scenario! :worried:
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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Mikey » Tue May 18, 2010 11:37 am

Monroe wrote:Watch out for a gray goo scenario! :worried:


That sounds vaguely dirty.
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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Sionnach Glic » Tue May 18, 2010 12:14 pm

Hey, no one really likes getting too much goo on themselves.
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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Tue May 18, 2010 9:09 pm

So, when are DNA AT-AT's coming about to take out the shield reactors? :lol:
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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Reliant121 » Tue May 18, 2010 9:12 pm

That could be dangerous.

Imagine an AT-AT with Hemophilia.
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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Mikey » Wed May 19, 2010 12:30 am

We'd probably have to imagine one with blood, first.
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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Reliant121 » Wed May 19, 2010 6:20 am

.....Be silent.

Logic is not necessary here!



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Re: Scientists create one-molecule DNA 'walker' nano-bot

Postby Mark » Sat May 22, 2010 2:51 am

We'll have nanoprobes very soon.
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