18-09-2017 12:30 PM | Lathika Saju | My Indian Dream
Molecular robots to access places where humans can’t go
Scientists have developed nanorobots that are very tiny structures built by using DNA. As DNA stores vast information, structures built from it can be used to perform tasks like delivering medicines throughout the body or transport gene-editing tools.
In a press release, Lulu Qian, a bioengineering professor at the California Institute of Technology and one of the study’s authors explained that just as electromechanical robots are sent off to faraway places, like Mars, they would like to send molecular robots to minuscule places where humans can’t go, such as the bloodstream. She informed that their aim was to design and build a molecular robot that could perform a sophisticated nanomechanical task: cargo sorting.
Scientists worked towards creating robots that could pick up and sort molecules within a designated space. To achieve this aim, they used a single strand of DNA to create a three-part DNA robot. The robot has a “leg” with a pair of feet. An “arm” with a “hand” allowed it to carry cargo, and they added a third component to tell the hand when a specific drop-off point had been reached so it would know to release the cargo.
They created and successfully tested the robots which have an 80 percent chance of accurately delivering their cargo.
Qian hopes that other researchers could use these principles for exciting applications, such as using a DNA robot for synthesizing a therapeutic chemical from its constituent parts in an artificial molecular factory, delivering a drug only when a specific signal is given in bloodstreams or cells, or sorting molecular components in trash for recycling.
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