(UPI) -- Researchers at Oxford University and Warwick University have developed a DNA-powered nanotrain which can build its own tracks and then dismantle the tracks.
The tiny self-assembling transport networks are powered by nano motors and controlled by DNA. The tracks come from a central point and spread across the network like the spokes of a wheel.
In the future, such networks could be used to deliver medicine to a targeted area in the human body, researchers say. Their findings are published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
"DNA is an excellent building block for constructing synthetic molecular systems, as we can program it to do whatever we need," said Adam Wollman, researcher at Oxford University's Department of Physics.
The system uses a motor protein called kinesis. Powered by ATP fuel, kinesins move along the micro-tracks carrying control modules made from short strands of DNA. The nanobots required to build the tracks and spread the network need two kinesis proteins, and the shuttles which carry the cargo need only one kinesis protein.
The experiment was demonstrated using a fluorescent green pigment. On command, the pigment spreads across the spokes and delivers the cargo, and on receiving the dismantle command, the tracks broke up.
The green pigment travels across the network but can be directed to concentrate at the center of the track, a process which can be used target specific areas with medication.