New DNA-based materials have been developed which can be programmed to respond to specific nucleic acid sequences, with potential applications in sensing and controlled release. Combining synthetic polymers with protein-inspired chemistry and DNA sequences allows the formation of soft gels, held together by DNA base pairing and disulfide links, which in turn allow recognition of DNA or RNA sequences and an amplified response as the gel swells. The work has now been published in Biomaterials Science (http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2013/bm/c3bm60126a#!divAbstract) and presentations on the work by first author, Giovanna Sicilia, have won First Prizes at the UK and Ireland Controlled Release Society and the Macro Group UK Young Researchers’ Meeting.
The work also formed part of the Opening Plenary Lecture at the 34th Australasian Polymer Symposium earlier this year, presented by Professor Cameron Alexander, who led the work funded by an the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Leadership Fellowship (EP/H005625/1) and grants EP/G042462/1, EP/H028277/1, EP/E021042/1). Giovanna Sicilia is also funded by a University of Nottingham Scholarship.
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