Programming DNA to deliver cancer drugs
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IMAGE: DNA has an important job — it tells your cells which proteins to make. Now, a research team at the University of Delaware has developed technology to program strands of… view more 

Credit: University of Delaware

DNA has an important job–it tells your cells which proteins to make. Now, a research team at the University of Delaware has developed technology to program strands of DNA into switches that turn proteins on and off.

UD’s Wilfred Chen Group describes their results in a paper published Monday, March 12 in the journal Nature Chemistry. This technology could lead to the development of new cancer therapies and other drugs.

Computing with DNA

This project taps into an emerging field known as DNA computing. Data we commonly send and receive in everyday life, such as text messages and photos, utilize binary code, which has two components–ones and zeroes. DNA is essentially a code with four components, the nucleotides guanine, adenine, cytosine, and thymine. In cells, the arrangement of these four nucleotides determines the output–the proteins made by the DNA. Here, scientists have repurposed the DNA code to design logic-gated DNA circuits.

“Once we had designed the system, we had to first go

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