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Bioengineering with (only) DNA. Dave Zhang 2nd Annual Unither Nanomedical and Telemedical Technology Conference 26 Feb 2009. DNA vs. genetic engineering. Genetic engineering. DNA engineering. A. Z. Ansari, Nature Chemical Biology , 2007. Nanoengineer, by Nanorex

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Bioengineering with only dna
Bioengineering with (only) DNA

  • Dave Zhang

  • 2nd Annual Unither Nanomedical and Telemedical Technology Conference

  • 26 Feb 2009

Dna vs genetic engineering
DNA vs. genetic engineering

Genetic engineering

DNA engineering

A. Z. Ansari,

Nature Chemical Biology, 2007

Nanoengineer, by Nanorex

Dna abstraction
DNA abstraction

Michael Ströck,


Cell wall


Actin and myosin

Lacey Samuels,

C. Daghlian,


2 um x 8 um

500,000 tiles!

Two-dimensional lattice

Aperiodic structures

Three-dimensional shapes

E. Winfree, F. Liu, L.A. Wenzler,

N.C. Seeman, Nature 1998

Y. He, T. Ye, M. Su, C. Zhang, A.E. Ribbe,

W. Jiang, C. Mao, Nature 2008

P. Rothemund, Nature 2006

Logic and actuators
Logic and actuators






Logical processing

Boolean Logic

Logical processing
Logical processing


Input 1

Input 2

Logical AND gate substrate

D. Y. Zhang, in preparation

Logical processing1
Logical processing

D. Y. Zhang, in preparation

Logical processing2
Logical processing

NAND gate is universal!

D. Y. Zhang, in preparation

Actuators and motors
Actuators and motors

B. Yurke, A.J. Turberfield, A.P. Mills, F. C. Simmel, J.L. Neumann,

Nature 2000

Amplification and reproduction

Jeff Hardin,

Amplification and reproduction


Spontaneous generation

Not really alive:

more like crystallization in a supersaturated solution


If we know what we’re looking for, we can amplify its concentration dynamically.

D. Y. Zhang, A.J. Turberfield, B. Yurke, E. Winfree, Science 2007

Interaction with general chemistry
Interaction with general chemistry

Small organic group


Z. J. Gartner, B. N. Tse, R. Grubina, J.B. Doyon,

T.M. Snyder, D.R. Liu, Science 2004

Adapted from David Liu’s website:

Dna engineering as a nanomedical tool
DNA engineering as a nanomedical tool

  • Instrument-free disease detection

  • Embedded control of apoptosis

  • Control of developmental biology

Parting thought
Parting Thought

Thanks for listening
Thanks for listening!

(and thanks to the following for their money:)