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3D Printing Aids Cancer Researchers


According to, the sequence “and its molecular structure was recently created…in the UA 3D Printing Lab, allowing researchers a potentially valuable new tool in the fight against cancer.”

The science and engineering librarian for UA Libraries, Dr. Vincent F. Scalfani, “collaborated with Drs. Stephan A. Ohnmacht and Stephen Neidle, professor, both researchers at the School of Pharmacy at University College London in the UK.

The researchers converted “laboratory X-ray crystallography data of a G-quadruplex molecule and the drug [in order to target it] into a 3D digital model suitable for 3D printing.”  As Dr. Scalfani explained, “preparing the G-quadruplex DNA sequence for 3D printing was a challenge and certainly pushed the limits of what we thought was possible in the UA 3D Lab.  The structure is extremely intricate, containing multiple areas of stacked functional groups (the quadruplex) that are all surrounded by a common outer loop (the DNA backbone).  The 3D printed G-quadruplex is stunning; you can see all of the symmetry, facets, and angles within the molecule.”

The model of the sequence will be useful in allowing students and researchers to “visualize the molecule’s structure, and the model is already being used in pre-clinical studies for pancreatic cancer research.”  As Dr. Ohnmacht says, “having a live model is invaluable; visualizing distances of bonds, electrostatic interactions and angles is easy and allows for further optimization of these anti-cancer molecules.  The printed 3D model is actually a real molecular structure that has been designed, synthesized, and then crystallized in the London labs.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of 

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