One potential application for DNA-containing hydrogels is to encapsulate cells or particles to be released in response to a particular DNA stimulus. The hydrogel, which contains single-stranded DNA molecules cross-linked at bridges, is degraded via the collateral cleavage action of Cas12a when the enzyme is triggered by a guide RNA (gRNA) that corresponds to the double-stranded DNA stimulus. The payload is then released.

© george retseck

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Ruth Williams is a freelance journalist based in Connecticut. Email her at ruth@wordsbyruth.com or find her on Twitter @rooph.

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