7.4.2 Definition & Short Description
Keywords: synthetic cells, nano-emulsion, self-assembly, DNA, molecular motors, nano-cages, bio-nanostructure.
For the purpose of this report bionanostructures are defined as engineered nanoscale structures made from biological material or for biological purposes.
Self assembling molecules which form novel nanostructures have already found applications in different areas ranging from drug delivery to cosmetics. Lipid-based nanostructures like liposomes and nanosomes have been used in the cosmetic industry for the last two decades. Proteins e.g. albumin have been modified to create nanoparticles for applications in cancer therapeutics. While the applications of self assembling molecules are slowly reaching the market, fundamental research on the self assembly of molecules to understand the complex cellular processes as well as next generation electric circuits are gaining pace. Synthetic cells which replicate the cellular functions enable to understand the biological processes taking place have implications in drug discovery. Liposomes, polymers and nanoemulsions have been used to create synthetic cells.
In addition, novel fabrication techniques along with nanomaterials have been used to create synthetic molecules by a bottom-up approach. To overcome the constraints in IC manufacturing as explained by Moore's law, the efforts are now on developing molecular switches. Chemically self assembling molecules which can be switched on and off have been proposed as molecular switches. Carbon nanotubes and nanowires have been used to link together different molecules in logic circuits. Complex molecules like catenanes and rotaxanes have been used to create molecular motors. DNA which can be programmed to self assemble, has been used to develop biosensors. RNA has also been used to produce devices which can be organised to detect molecules and perform drug delivery. They have also been used to build logic gates (AND, NOR, NAND, or OR gates) as well as signal filters.
DNA motors which can transport cargo (like natural molecular motors myosin and kinesin) have been developed. Different types of powering strategies have been developed for molecular motors. Models have been developed for DNA nanomotors powered by energy from DNA and RNA hydrolysis, ATP hydrolysis and DNA hybridisation. The report looks into the development of these novel bionanostructures and its manipulation for different applications.
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