Programmable DNA Glue Can Selectively 3D-Print Natural Materials

By Jamie Condliffe on at

A team of researchers from University of Texas at Austin has developed a new technique which uses the binding properties of DNA to create selective glues, which will be able to produce complex 3D-printed objects using natural, living materials.

The researchers have developed a series of nanoparticles made of either polystyrene or polyacrylamide that are then coated with DNA. The DNA then allows them to selectively bind to each other — but, crucially, not other particles — to form gel-like materials. So far, the scientists have been able to build the kinds of rudimentary structures above.

But there's more promise than these white lumps of weirdness. Because the DNA coating allows the team to control how the material joins together, it should in theory be possible to combine them in a way that helps to create larger, more complex structures. The team has already shown that human cells can grow in these gels, which demonstrates that it may be possible to use these 3D-printed structures as a scaffold to crow organic objects — maybe even organs. [ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering via via Engadget]