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Biology alumni Kyle Lund published in Nature and Discover

UMW News Bureau

NanospiderThough University of Montana Western biology alumni Kyle Lund’s work may be on a small scale — nano, actually — it’s getting a lot of big attention.

Lund, a 2004 UMW graduate, worked collaboratively with a group of scientists who recently had their work on nano-spiders, or “DNA robots,” published in the journal Nature and magazine Discover.

Lund designed his own robot, or spider, first in a computer program before actually creating the spider’s body using nanotechnology. Lund formed the spider’s body out of a molecule called streptavidin and the legs out of DNA molecules. The scientists also created a synthetic DNA landscape called DNA origami, which allowed them to control the direction of the robots.

Lund and his colleagues hope the nano robots will be able to help doctors deliver drugs to very specific areas of the human body.

“The professors we worked with at Colombia University were trying to develop spiders that could bond to a cell surface, carry and release cargo,” Lund explained. “That cargo could be a drug, insulin, for example.”

Such complex work took a lot of research, and Lund said he first learned the importance of good research while he was pursuing his undergraduate degree at Montana Western.

“Working at UMW was the starting point for me,” Lund said. “It got me interested in doing research and prepared me for grad school.”

Lund went on to graduate school at Arizona State University where he received a master’s in chemistry and a Ph.D. in biochemistry. Lund is currently a Captain in the United States Army at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland.

Lund hopes his contributions to the nano spider project could help the U.S. military in developing a treatment for botulism. No treatment currently exists.

“To me, it’s fun to try and develop something that somebody could use,” Lund said.

As Lund continues his groundbreaking and potentially life-changing work, he admits the simple intrigue of the unknown is still one of the most rewarding aspects of his new career.

“The mystery of it all intrigues me,” Lund explained. “Putting puzzle pieces together is fun for me. I really enjoy that aspect of research.”