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A team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Arizona State University has developed a program that can convert free drawn shapes to 2D DNA nanostructures, also known as DNA origami. This algorithm can autonomously determine the required sequences, simplifying the process of designing these highly detailed assemblies.

DNA origami is a technique that creates nano-sized 2D and 3D structures made of DNA. These shapes can be particularly useful in nanotechnology for producing complex structures. The approach uses the ability of DNA bases to pair with each other to form a large “scaffold” sequence of DNA and hold these together with smaller “staple” sequences.

Until recently, designing DNA origami required researchers to manually work out the sequences required, as there were limited options for automating this long process. However, Mark Bathe and his team have produced an algorithm that is capable of calculating the strands needed to assemble a desired shape. This removes the need for expert knowledge when designing DNA origami (Science Advances 10.1126/sciadv.aav0655).

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