In living cells, protein-based motors transport cargo by inching along tubes within the cell, according to the team's abstract in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. By changing its shape and binding to consecutive parts of the tube's surface, these natural molecules are able to travel as far as a micrometer (1,000 nanometers) by taking steps of 8 nanometers at a time.
Mimicking this complex process, the Purdue team developed a molecule with a core and two DNA arms, according to a university report. Using strands of RNA, the molecule moves from one to the next across the surface, like Tarzan using vines to swing through the jungle. Each strand gives the molecule energy to keep moving forward.
Although the synthetic motors are much slower than natural ones and the concept is still in very early stages of development, this could one day revolutionize drug delivery. What type of manufacturing and chemical processing do you think would benefit the most from this type of technology?
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