A recent article from The Scientist discussed the strategy of using “DNA origami” to trap and encase large viruses. The method aims to intercept viruses like SARS-CoV-2, influenza A, and Zika before they infect cells. The researchers behind it used the DNA origami to engineer strands of genetic material into cage-like structures around larger pathogens. Though the initial study focused on binding to viruses in vitro, they hope to one day use them to clear viruses from the body.
Because DNA’s structure is modular and extremely flexible, scientists are able to configure sequences that create a wide range of different shapes and sizes. They started with a single-stranded DNA molecule that was either synthesized or derived from a bacteriophage virus. The DNA was then mixed with shorter DNA strands designed to attach to specific sequences of the larger single-stranded DNA sequence. The shorter strands instruct the large molecule to twist and fold into the desired shape.