Army to use "origami" method to fight bioweapons

A method of shaping DNA similar to Japanese origami will be used by the U.S. Army as a method of building heartier antibodies that can be used to detect pathogens like smallpox and Ebola.

Like the Japanese paper-folding process, single strands of DNA are folded into miniature two and three dimensional shapes. The Army plans to use this to strengthen natural antibodies against war-zone pressures, Wired reports.

Since current technology does not yet detect biowarfare molecules with the speed and accuracy needed, the logical conclusion is to somehow use our body’s natural sensors of disease - antibodies - to detect these pathogens. To ensure these synthesized antibodies last longer, the Army plans to use the DNA folding technique to make them heartier.

The method was developed by researcher Paul Rothemund and his team at the California Institute of Technology in 2006, where it was referred to as DNA origami, according to Wired. Using a specialized software program, the desired shape of the DNA is entered in. The DNA staples and scaffold are mixed and heated and, as they cool down, the strand is coaxed into the desired shape.

If tests are successful, the DNA origami antibodies will be used in a portable device to detect pathogens. These might also find a use in natural sensors of disease that can be used in mainstream medicine as well.