A complex interplay of molecular components governs almost all aspects of biological sciences - healthy organism development, disease progression, and drug efficacy are all dependent on the way life's molecules interact in the body. Understanding these bio-molecular interactions is critical for the discovery of new, more effective therapeutics and diagnostics to diagnose and treat cancer and other diseases, but previously, to achieve such understanding, scientists have been required to have access to expensive and elaborate laboratory equipment. Now, a new approach developed by researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, promises a much faster and more affordable way to examine bio-molecular behavior, opening the door for scientists in virtually any laboratory world-wide to join the quest for creating better drugs. The findings were published in the February 2015 issue of Nature Methods. "Bio-molecular interaction analysis, a cornerstone of biomedical research, is traditionally accomplished using equipment that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Wyss Associate Faculty member Wesley P. Wong, Ph.D., senior author of the Nature Methods study. "Rather than develop a new instrument, we've created a nanoscale tool made from strands of DNA that can detect and report how molecules behave, enabling biological measurements to be made by almost anyone, using only common and inexpensive laboratory reagents." Dr. Wong, who is also Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School in the Departments of Biological Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology and Pediatrics and Investigator at the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital, calls the new tools DNA "nanoswitches".
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