Étudiante-chercheure étoile June 2016

Nicole Avakyan

PhD student in Chemistry
McGill University

Award-winning publication: Reprogramming the assembly of unmodified DNA with a small molecule

Published in: Nature Chemistry


The discovery reported in this contribution demonstrates a fundamentally new way to make DNA assemblies – the only components required being short DNA strands and a small molecule with compatible binding features. The advantage of this method is the use of inexpensive, non-toxic starting materials to access unique, new structures from DNA. CA-based products are in fact widely used to disinfect pools and drinking water. The nanofiber material formed in this way is easy to access, abundant and highly structured. With further development, we can envisage a variety of applications of this material from medicinal chemistry to tissue engineering and materials science. Furthermore, the general principle of DNA assembly mediated by a small molecule has potential to generate a great variety of new DNA-based, biocompatible materials with tunable properties.