Home pagePress monitoringScientists build tiny virus traps out of DNA origami

Scientists build tiny virus traps out of DNA origami

Date: 21.7.2021 

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed a new method to treat viral infections by making traps. The team folded DNA into nano-capsules with specialized binding points inside them, which could grab hold of viruses and render them inert.

Kredit: Elena-Marie Willner/DietzLab.For the last few years the team has been experimenting with programming DNA to fold into “blocks” and plates which then assemble into shapes like origami. For the new work the researchers decided to see if they could use this technology to make hollow bodies that were about the size of a virus, which could then clamp over the bugs and prevent them from infecting cells.

The team tested the traps in lab cell cultures, containing mouse serum, human cells and viruses. The structures remained stable in the serum for 24 hours, and successfully captured two different types of viruses – hepatitis B and adeno-associated viruses (AAVs). In both cases, the traps prevented the viruses from infecting human cells.

The researchers say that the next step is to test these traps in mice, and they expect that they should be well-tolerated by the human body. And the underlying tech of building nanostructures out of DNA origami could eventually have other applications as well.

"In addition to the proposed application as a virus trap, our programmable system also creates other opportunities," says Hendrik Dietz. "It would also be conceivable to use it as a multivalent antigen carrier for vaccinations, as a DNA or RNA carrier for gene therapy or as a transport vehicle for drugs."





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