Kokkoli leads UMN research on Alzheimer's and brain cancer

March 9, 2015 - Professor Efie Kokkoli is leading an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Minnesota to improve treatments for Alzheimer's disease and brain cancer through the use of DNA nanotechnology — microscopic structures that are built from DNA.

Through her research, Kokkoli found an alternative way of engineering the DNA nanotubes into a type of “nanotape” that twists itself to form a solid tube much like a metal spring does when compressed. Unlike other DNA nanotubes that slowly come together from hundreds of different DNA sequences by adjusting their environment, Kokkoli’s discovery, using DNA-amphiphiles (molecules that have sections that love the water and sections that hate the water), can self-assemble in a matter of minutes in water from multiple copies of only one DNA-amphiphile molecule. The breakthrough provides a faster, easier and more robust way to produce drug delivery containers.This research project is part of the state-funded MnDRIVE Transdisciplinary Research Program, where researchers from different departments work beyond the limits of their disciplines to address complex challenges.

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