Familiar to us as building blocks of life, DNA molecules have also proven themselves as versatile building blocks for a wide variety of new nanostructures. While solution-phase chemistry lets millions of parallel DNA reactions be performed simultaneously in a beaker, manipulating single molecules of DNA is still a formidable challenge. A new technique, known as molecular threading, now lets researchers grab onto a single gnarled strand of DNA in solution, draw it out into thin air, and neatly fix it to a substrate where it can be accessed.
The process was developed several years ago by Halcyon Molecular, and has attracted significant funding from illustrious investors including Elon Musk and Peter Thiel. The intellectual property is now owned by Aeon Biowares, a company which develops, among other things, heavy metal labels to visualize large biomolecules like DNA. Exotic DNA structures and devices, including things like 3D DNA origami, have many potential applications. Right now, though, the most practical application is sequencing.
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