Researchers in the US have developed a way to print DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid), which they say will one day make genetic tests as cheap as blood tests.
The technique called Supramolecular Nano-Stamping (SuNS) uses handy genetic tools called microarrays, which are not generally used in medical diagnostics.
The new technique has been developed by Francesco Stellacci and his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In this technique, the template, a surface dotted with single strands of DNA of known sequences, is placed in a solution filled with other pieces of DNA, reports science portal Science Central.
"They are supposed to be the future of diagnostics, whereby you use these to analyse all of your genetic information, that allows you to be able to tell which are your genetic diseases or to diagnose cancer very early on," says Stellacci.
With the ability to run tens of thousands of genetic experiments simultaneously on a small glass slide, DNA microarrays have offered a better understanding of genetically based illnesses like Huntington's and cancer.
Stellacci's technique could be used to produce many other kinds of nano-devices. These include materials, both organic and inorganic, which can be made to assemble along a pattern composed of DNA strands.
Stellacci says: "In the future, one could envision using DNA just as a starting material to produce a transistor because there are published ways where you can transform DNA into a metal, or turning DNA into semiconductors."
He also plans to try DNA printing with other things like proteins, antibodies and viruses.