Antimicrobial resistance is a growing global public health problem. Every year, 700 000 people die from drug resistant infections. Resistance is costly to healthcare, as traditional treatments become ineffective longer hospitalisations and more expensive drugs are required.

In our project, we are designing a DNA origami nanomachine, which we have named the DNAlien, that selectively destroys harmful microbes to combat resistance. Our project can be divided into two sections; targeting and destruction.

The targeting section involves using DNA aptamers which are structures that can selectively bind to a particular microbe. Destruction methods we are exploring include disrupting microbial membranes with DNA-origami lipid nanopores. We are hiding our nanopore inside a DNA barrel, and will only be switched onto ‘destruction-mode’ when it binds to a specific microbe. This technology could offer an alternative to antimicrobials such as antibiotics, which have been implicated in the emergence of superbugs.