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Prof. Jonathan Heddle: Structural Synthetic Biology: Building Nanomachines from Nature's Building Blocks

Prof. Jonathan Heddle: Structural Synthetic Biology: Building Nanomachines from Nature's Building Blocks

Our cells are a hive of activity – tasks such as DNA replication, energy production and responses to environmental stimuli amongst many other are all being undertaken often at breath-taking speed. These tasks are primarily carried out by structures made of proteins (e.g. enzymes). Given the amazing things that proteins could do – what if we could design and build our own versions of protein nanomachines to carry out specific tasks – this could have utility for example in medicine and biotechnology. Protein cages are one example of potentially revolutionary artificial protein structures. Proteins are not the whole story – DNA can also be designed to go beyond the simple and familiar double helix structure  and an be used to build complex nanorobots with the “DNA origami” technique being one of the most powerful methods for achieving this. This presentation will act as a general introduction to some aspects of protein and DNA nanotechnology for the non-scientist.