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A recipe for tunable DNA hydrogels

OCT 27, 2023
Changing the structure of microscopic DNA ladders tailors hydrogels properties for potential applications in drug delivery, biosensing, and tissue engineering.
A recipe for tunable DNA hydrogels internal name

A recipe for tunable DNA hydrogels lead image

The biodegradability, biocompatibility, and self-assembly of DNA hydrogels make them promising materials for various medical applications. While many types of DNA hydrogels exist, researchers are not yet able to finely tune their properties.

Hanif et al. developed an efficient, cost-effective method to produce highly tunable DNA hydrogels. In this method, DNA precursors assemble into a microscopic ladder to form the hydrogel. The properties of the gel can be tailored by changing the number of rungs and the rung width of this DNA microladder.

“Controlling DNA at the microscale leads to macroscale property changes of the hydrogel,” said author Dana Alsulaiman. “This level of control and tunability with a completely all-DNA hydrogel has never been shown before.”

Notably, this method can alter hydrogel pore size by over one order of magnitude without introducing non-DNA ingredients, saving cost and time, while maintaining biocompatibility.

“The time of synthesis is very short compared to previous works,” said author Wildan Hanif. “Other methods can take up to 65 hours to make DNA hydrogels, but we can make this kind in less than 10 hours.”

Eventually, these DNA hydrogels could be used to develop macroscale materials for various applications, including the controlled delivery of drugs, biosensing, and tissue engineering.

“We want to change the general perception of DNA. It can function not only as a genetic store of information but as an interesting material in itself,” Alsulaiman said.

The team plans to work on scaling up this method to adapt the DNA hydrogel to different biomedical applications.

Source: “Programmable all-DNA hydrogels based on rolling circle and multiprimed chain amplification products,” by Wildan Hanif, Indresh Yadav, Erol Hasan, and Dana Alsulaiman, APL Bioengineering (2023). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0169063 .

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