Research Areas

Our group’s research focuses on various aspects of functional engineered DNA molecules – deoxyribozymes and aptamers – from their selection and characterization to their application for bioanalysis. Deoxyribozymes are DNA molecules exhibiting catalytic properties for a number of chemical transformations, from phosphodiester bond cleavage to Diels Alder reactions. They have a potential to serve as “green” catalysts, RNA cleaving anti-cancer agents, or for detection of ions and biomolecules. Aptamers can be viewed as receptors or antibodies made of DNA. Their ability to tightly and selectively bind a ligand (small molecule, protein, cell, etc.) is explored in designing chemical sensors and/or constructs with gene expression control capabilities. We use both types of functional DNA as a scaffold to design multicomponent probes that self-assemble in response to a specific nucleic acid target and report the target’s presence. The probes exhibit advantages of cost-efficient and straightforward design, which makes them easily optimizable and fined-tunable, high selectivity of nucleic acid recognition, ability to interrogate even highly structured nucleic acids, and a variety of signal readouts including a color change. Our goal is to employ the probes to advance “on-site” (point-of-care) diagnostics of bacterial and viral pathogens.

Download CV