News & Events

Ask A Biologist: Nicholas Stephanopoulos builds his career at the nanoscale

September 19, 2019

Nicholas Stephanopoulos always wanted to be a professor, just like his father. From an early age, he pursued his passion through science, working in labs during his high school years, and later studying chemistry at Harvard. Today, he serves as an assistant professor in the Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics and School of Molecular Sciences. Stephanopoulos is a newly featured scientist in Ask A Biologist, an award-winning online science learning resource for students,...

Researchers offer new strategies for the use of extracellular vesicles as biomarkers

August 21, 2019

With advances in technology and our understanding of the human body, come better techniques for diagnosing disease. One recent innovation involves the use of extracellular vesicles as biomarkers for a range of illnesses. Extracellular vesicles are tiny bubbles of material emitted from most living cells that can offer vital clues about the status of the cells producing them. However, the field of extracellular vesicle (EV) research is a relatively new one, and there are more refinements to be...

ASU professor named to Fast Company’s 'Most Creative People in Business 2019'

May 22, 2019

Arizona State University Biodesign Institute researcher Hao Yan has been named to Fast Company’s list of “Most Creative People in Business 2019” for his work using nanobots to fight cancerous tumors by choking off their blood supply. Fast Company recognized Yan’s work using nanorobots to treat cancer at the molecular level. A pioneer in the field of DNA origami, Yan and his team in the  Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics  draw their inspiration from...

Programmable 'Legos' of DNA and protein building blocks create novel 3D cages

March 29, 2019

The central goal of nanotechnology is the manipulation of materials on an atomic or molecular scale, especially to build microscopic devices or structures. Three-dimensional cages are one of the most important targets, both for their simplicity and their application as drug carriers for medicine. DNA nanotechnology uses DNA molecules as programmable “Legos” to assemble structures with a control not possible with other molecules. However, the structure of DNA is very simple and lacks the...

Plucky science: Researchers’ nanotweezers used in detection of conformational changes

March 12, 2019

Biomolecules, such as DNA and proteins, are not static structures. They undergo complex conformational changes that are essential to their functioning and the signaling pathways they belong to. Understanding these changes is pivotal to a deeper comprehension of how the body works and could eventually shed light on certain diseases that afflict us. Recent advancements in DNA nanotechnology provide insight into the subtle role of biomolecules. Channeling DNA’s chemical and physical...

Natural killers: Biodesign researcher enhances ability of immune system to fight off cancer

January 28, 2019

Cancer remains a leading cause of death globally and is the focus of exhaustive and varied medical research. Many of ASU’s Biodesign Institute researchers are working to establish alternative therapies that sidestep the harmful effects of chemotherapy and radiation while improving the success rate for the more difficult-to-treat cancers. These immunotherapies are innovative treatments that leverage the body’s own defense infrastructure to recognize and destroy diseased cells. Bo Ning,...

ASU researchers address a primary cause of treatment failure for pancreatic cancer

January 10, 2019

As the second leading cause of death worldwide, cancer is a focal point in both clinical research and health care fields, but not all cancers are created equal. While some cancers are now much less deadly due to recent medical advances, other aggressive cancers remain highly resistant to currently available therapies. This therapy resistance is a leading cause of cancer-associated death. Pancreatic cancer is an extreme example of this effect, and therapy resistance is a major reason why only...

DNA on auto-pilot

January 3, 2019

Nature has made extravagant use of a simple molecule—DNA, the floorplan of all earthly life. Inventive researchers have used the same base-pairing properties that bond two strands of DNA into the familiar double helix to build innumerable useful structures at the nanometer scale. One such method, known as DNA origami, has yielded rich results in recent years, enabling the construction of a rapidly growing menagerie of 2- and 3-dimensional objects, with far-flung applications in material...

Healing kidneys with nanotechnology

November 8, 2018

Each year, there are some 13.3 million new cases of acute kidney injury (AKI), a serious affliction. Formerly known as acute renal failure, the ailment produces a rapid buildup of nitrogenous wastes and decreases urine output, usually within hours or days of disease onset.  Severe complications often ensue. Currently, there is no known cure for AKI. AKI is responsible for 1.7 million deaths annually. Protecting healthy kidneys from harm and treating those already injured remains a...

Tying the knot: New DNA nanostructures

November 2, 2018

Knots are indispensable tools for such human activities as sailing, fishing and rock climbing, (not to mention, tying shoes).  But tying a knot in a lacelike strand of DNA, measuring just billionths of a meter in length, requires patience and highly specialized expertise. Hao Yan, a researcher at ASU, is a practiced hand in this delicate and exotic field, operating at the crossroads of nanotechnology and fine art. In new research appearing in the journal Nature Communications, Yan...