May 23, 2019 | Updated: 06:04 PM EDT

Imitating Life Through a Biomaterial That Can Metabolize

Apr 20, 2019 10:17 AM EDT

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DNA
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Metabolism, self-assembly, and organization. These three main characteristics of life combined together using DNA could make things possible to create a machine with lifeline characteristics. 

Cornell University engineers innovated a process called DASH that means "DNA-based Assembly and Synthesis of Hierarchical" materials. This enabled them to use a metabolic DNA material that allows the conversion of food into energy. 

Dan Luo, professor of biological and environmental engineering, emphasized that, "We are not making something that's alive, but we are creating materials that are much more lifelike than have ever been seen before."

According to Big Think, "The major innovation here is the programmed metabolism that is coded into the DNA materials. The set of instructions for metabolism and autonomous regeneration allows the material to grow on its own."

An organism in order to be alive needs to generate new cells while getting rid of old ones. Cornell University researchers imitated this process in their DASH. A biomaterial that can grow from nanoscale building blocks were designed by the researchers that has the capacity to cluster itselfinto polymers and into mesoscale shapes therefter. 

Duplication of the DNA molecules was done that resulted to repeating DNA chains that were a few millimeters in length. Biosynthesis was accomplished by injecting a solution with the reaction into a special microfluidic device. 

This allowed DNA synthesis of the materials. It can even move as the front end grows while the tail end degrades. 

Hamada reported that the creeated material has a span of two synthetic and degradatio cycles but still has the possibility of being extended. 

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