Nanomaterials built on DNA could trap and neutralize the virus


There are many viral infections around the world, but no antidote has yet been found to be labeled as highly effective against the virus. The Technical University of Munich or the experts from TUM have recently developed a new method in this area using nanotechnology.

DNA nanocapsules vs viral infection

(Photo: Elena-Marie Willner / DietzLab / TUM)

TUM studied nanocapsules that could trap and neutralize viruses using the structure of DNA. The efficacy of nanocapsules has been previously examined against types of disease correlated with viruses, such as hepatitis and adeno-associated viruses in cell cultures. Fortunately, nano-capsules also have potential against deadly types of coronavirus.

Most bacteria have corresponding antibiotics for treatment, but with acute viral infections only a few antidotes are available and are used by the medical community. Vaccines can prevent some of the serious infections, but developing them takes a lot of research and takes a long time, reports PhysOrg.

To create an effective solution against viruses, researchers from prestigious institutions such as the Technical University of Munich, Brandeis University and the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen collaborated to develop a new approach. This proposal includes the invention of a nanostructure made from human genome material, or DNA, that could lock and dissolve viruses easily and safely.

Biomolecular nanotechnology expert Hendrick Dietz from the Technical University of Munich, along with his team, studied the structure of the nanomaterials that make up a virus. Dietz and his team were involved in the study long before the COVID-19 pandemic even began.

Their study focuses on some of the 1962 principles, also known as the CK theory, analyzed by biology and biophysics experts Donald Caspar and Aaron Klug. Bioscientists are the first to discover geometric studies revolving around the physical characteristics of viruses. Based on this principle, Caspar and Klug are able to identify the composition of protein envelopes of viruses.

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Nanocapsules: artificial virus blocker

Using the biological principles of viral protein geometry, Deitz is able to study and produce a concept of nanoscale artificial hollow bodies comparable to the size of viruses. This development also sparked an idea that the man-made virus could potentially function as a trapping agent. Based on the study published in the journal Nature Materials titled “Programmable icosaedral shell system for virus trapping”, these artificial nanocapsules will be directed in accordance with natural viral binding molecules, making adhesion stronger and effectively trapping the virus.

Dietz said building an artificial sacred body against viruses is a challenge because the DNA-structured objects that were initially developed were not able to trap an entire virus due to differences in size. This problem was solved by reconstructing the artificial DNA plaques into a larger geometric model.

The geometric characteristics of the nano-capsules are also enhanced for the efficiency and flexibility of entrapment, with its modified shape into half-triangles and tie points on the edges. This will allow the nano-capsule to open and close to trap viruses.

Experts then irradiated the nanocapsules with UV light and coated its surface with glycol and oligolysin to prevent it from being easily washed away by natural body fluids. If successful, the nanocapsules combined with the antibodies could block viral cells by up to 80% and could even lead to complete entrapment.

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Find more nanotechnology news and information at Science Times.


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