News & Events

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...

Hao Yan awarded $1.2 million to create ‘living electronics’

October 18, 2018

Hao Yan, director of the Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics, received an extension of the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant for his groundbreaking work in nanotechnologies. The additional $1.2 million will help “set the foundation for the bottom-up engineering of synthetic biology tools,” according to Yan. A previous five-year grant of $6.25 million allowed Yan’s team to use structural components of cells to test out fundamental elements and...

Of science fiction and salamanders New tools for tissue regeneration

October 4, 2018

Scientists have been searching for ways to develop materials that are as dynamic as living things, with the ability to change shape, move and change properties reversibly. Now, with nature as their inspiration, Northwestern University scientists, along with Arizona State University’s Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a researcher at the Biodesign Institute’s Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics, have developed soft materials that autonomously self-assemble into molecular superstructures...

Two ASU professors receive 2018 NIH New Innovator Award

October 2, 2018

“No. 1 in innovation” is an accolade ASU proclaims proudly in all realms of university life. Today, ASU proved once again that it is deserving of such a title.      ASU professors, Nicholas Stephanopoulos, assistant professor in the School of Molecular Sciences, and Rizal Hariadi, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, both researchers in the Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics, were announced as the recipients of the 2018 NIH New Innovator...

Escape from the lab! Six promising biotech start-up companies profiled at all-day symposium

October 1, 2018

  ASU’s many laboratories are seedbeds for an astonishing variety of new ideas. But the path from basic research to real-world applications can be complex, perilous and sometimes, bewildering. Recently, an all-day seminar, hosted at the Biodesign Institute, explored an array of promising research that has escaped the confines of the lab. New spinout companies, based on pathbreaking research, are bringing exciting innovations in the life sciences to market. The gathering was...

Useful in a pinch: nanoscale tweezers are triggered by light

July 16, 2018

Using segments of DNA, researchers at ASU have constructed a pair of tweezers, measuring 100,000 times tinier than the width of a human hair. A brief burst of ultraviolet light causes the jaws of the tweezers to switch from their closed to open position in seconds—about 65 times faster than similar devices. The new light-activated tweezers are the latest innovation in the fast-moving world of nanotechnology. Devices of this kind, which can directly interact with and influence biological...

Built for speed: DNA nanomachines take a (rapid) step forward

May 7, 2018

When it comes to matching simplicity with staggering creative potential, DNA may hold the prize. Built from an alphabet of just four nucleic acids, DNA provides the floorplan from which all earthly life is constructed. But DNA’s remarkable versatility doesn’t end there. Researchers have managed to coax segments of DNA into performing a host of useful tricks. DNA sequences can form logical circuits for nanoelectronic applications. They have been used to perform sophisticated...