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Miniature DNA thermometer, 20,000 times smaller than human hair

The trend of miniaturisation has now transformed a thermometer to a futuristic nano-scale device. A group of researchers from University of Montreal, Canada, has fabricated an ultra-small, programmable DNA thermometer, which is 20,000 times smaller than human hair. This invention is likely to produce accurate results over a wide range of temperatures and result in a linear ultra-sensitive response curve between fluorescence marker and temperature.

According to scientists, DNAs are heat-responsive. Simply putting, when excess heat is incident on the target DNA, it loses its double helix structure. Senior author and professor Alexis Vallée-Bélisle explaines that, biochemicals such as proteins or RNAs act as nano-temperature-sensors inside a living organism and exhibit corresponding movements by folding or unfolding. Inspired by such natural phenomena, scientists have tried to incorporate similar technology using DNA where it folds and unfolds at predefined temperatures.

Prof. Vallée-Bélisle explained that their research breakthrough is an initial step taken to realise the complexities of thermo-regulation system at nano-scale. As an example, he cited that human body is maintained at a temperature of 37°C but till now, researchers have little idea regarding how an individual cell contributes to maintain that.

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