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DNA origami nanostructures for vaccine development and transporting drugs inside the body

Jul. 18, 2023.
1 min. read Interactions

Five European and Australian universities invent a way to program "good" virus particles.

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Amara Angelica

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Amara Angelica is Senior Editor, Mindplex.

DNA origami nanostructures (blue) can be used to program the shape of virus particles (gray). The native capsid (protein shell) with a diameter of 28 nanometers is shown in green-gray (credit: Mauri A. Kostiainen/Aalto University)

Bioengineers at a team of five universities have invented a way to program the size and shape of “good” virus particles. The method combines viral protein-building blocks and templates made from DNA. The resulting nanostructures could have new applications in vaccine development and transporting drugs inside the body, the researchers suggest.

Virus nanostructure shapes and geometry depend largely on the specific virus strain. The scientists used capsid proteins—the proteins that shield the genome of a virus—to build precisely structured protein assemblies.

“By using DNA origami as a template, we can direct the capsid proteins into a user-defined size and shape, resulting in assemblies which are well-defined, both in length and diameter, said Iris Seitz, lead author and doctoral researcher at Aalto University. “By testing a variety of DNA origami structures, we also learned how the templates’ geometry affected the whole assembly.”

“With the help of cryogenic electron microscopy imaging, we were able to visualize the highly ordered proteins upon assembly and, with that, measure even small changes in the geometry of the assembly arising from different templates,” explained professor Juha Huiskonen, a collaborating scientist from the University of Helsinki.

This work was conducted jointly at Aalto University (Finland) and with researchers from the University of Helsinki (Finland), Griffith University (Australia), Tampere University (Finland) and University of Twente (The Netherlands).

Citation: Seitz, I., Saarinen, S., Kumpula, E., McNeale, D., Lampinen, V., Hytönen, V. P., Sainsbury, F., Cornelissen, J. J., Linko, V., Huiskonen, J. T., & Kostiainen, M. A. (2023). DNA-origami-directed virus capsid polymorphism. Nature Nanotechnology, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-023-01443-x (open-access via PDF)

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One thought on “DNA origami nanostructures for vaccine development and transporting drugs inside the body

  1. "Remarkable breakthrough! The bioengineers' ability to program the size and shape of virus particles using DNA origami as templates opens up exciting possibilities for vaccine development and drug delivery. A game-changer in the field of nanotechnology." "This research showcases the power of collaboration among universities. The joint effort of Aalto University, University of Helsinki, Griffith University, Tampere University, and University of Twente has given us a groundbreaking approach to designing virus nanostructures with precision." "Fascinating work! The use of cryogenic electron microscopy imaging to visualize the protein assemblies highlights the meticulous attention to detail in this study. The researchers' dedication to measuring even small changes in geometry will undoubtedly lead to more effective applications." "Impressive and promising! Being able to direct capsid proteins into user-defined shapes and sizes through DNA origami templates has immense potential in revolutionizing vaccine design and targeted drug delivery systems." "The potential impact of this research on healthcare and medicine cannot be understated. The ability to create well-defined nanostructures using viral proteins brings us closer to addressing challenging medical issues with more efficient therapies."
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