Feb 16

What do we need DNA origami crystals for?

In the autumn of 2019, we want to conduct a fully automated experiment on the crystallization of DNA origami nanostructures onboard the International Space Station!

But why do we want to make DNA origami crystals?

One of the key goals of DNA nanotechnology is the construction of periodic arrays in 3 dimensions, the construction of 3D DNA origami crystals.

These crystals would have great potential for applications such as serving as nanoelectronic components, or for the structural elucidation of biomolecules. 

Crystals are very regular structures with defined distances, this property can be exploited to produce nanoelectronic components for a DNA computer, for example. It has been shown that DNA lattices can arrange metal particles in a way to direct the assembly of nanoscale electrical circuits.The very precisely defined distances within crystalline structures offer the possibility to create high performing data carriers. 

Crystal lattices of 3D DNA origamis can also make a huge contribution to the development of new drugs.

The goal is to use self-assembling DNA lattices (crystals) as platforms to position biological macromolecules to study their structure with X-ray crystallography.

The determination of the exact structure of a drug target is essential to designing a drug against that specific target, for example a faulty protein. This process can take years and causes enormous costs. By embedding the drug target in a 3D DNA Origami crystal lattice, the process of structural analysis can be considerably accelerated. 

All of these applications require the successful cultivation of macroscopic 3D DNA origami crystals. But building macroscopic 3D DNA origami crystals is an unsolved task so far. 

To achieve this goal, we want to use the optimal conditions for crystallization that the Insternational Space Station provides! Microgravity offers optimal conditions for crystal growth because convection and sedimentation effects are negligibly small. Thus, a regular and pure crystal can be grown.

With your support, we can take the next step in the exciting field of DNA nanotechnology together!

Your Space Origami Crew

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