New DNA Computer Opens Door to Future Medical Breakthroughs
October 1, 2013 5:29 PM
comment(s) - last by
Method uses linear-DNA -- compatible with standard cell enzymes -- to process signals and produce outputs
A team of researchers from the
Univ. of Washington
(UW), the California Institute of Technology (
Univ. of California
(UC) and Microsoft Corp. (
come up with a "toolbox"
which they say represents the most promising
DNA based computer network
The basic idea of
a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) toolbox
is to take inputs -- small strands of DNA or microRNA (micro-ribonucleic acid) -- perform a series of displacement reactions on "Gate" strands, and selectively put out a set of desired outputs that can be used to activate man-made molecules to deliver drugs, turn on sensors, or feed into other DNA networks.
The attractiveness of making DNA computers is that the tools to preserve and replicate your network are already on hand -- in the various cellular nucleases, ligases, topoisomerases, helicases, and polymerases that
the cell uses to processes DNA
. Thus future DNA computers composed of inputs (sensors, delivered drug molecules) and outputs (releasable drug packages, selective protein transcription) can be made to be self-repairing and programmable.
Future in-situ computers may be built from DNA. [Image Source: Turbo Squid]
The trick is to come up with a programming language.
The latest work builds on
an earlier 2007 paper
by the authors. It uses a DNA displacement approach (like most DNA computer efforts), which implements a basic set of logic "gates" for the DNA computer as a series of DNA reactions.
The team grows their gates in bacteria using natural enzymes. [Image Source: UW via Nature]
It's the implementation of these reactions that varies from study to study. In this study the authors use a process of nicking double-stranded linear gate DNA, which undergoes displacement reactions initiated by the signal molecules. The authors write:
Among the many proposed architectures for strand displacement computation, ours is unique in that it relies exclusively on linear, double-stranded DNA complexes (processed by ‘nicking’ one of the strands). Because this structure is compatible with natural DNA, we are able to produce our computational elements in a highly pure form by bacterial cloning. Thus, we bypass the practical limitations in the length and purity of synthetic strands.
The study's senior author, UW electrical and computer engineering professor
, describes the work stating:
We start from an abstract, mathematical description of a chemical system, and then use DNA to build the molecules that realize the desired dynamics. The vision is that eventually, you can use this technology to build general-purpose tools.
I think this is appealing because it allows you to solve more than one problem. If you want a computer to do something else, you just reprogram it. This project is very similar in that we can tell chemistry what to do.
An animation of double-stranded DNA [Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]
The research is still a long way away from offering a solution that's compatible with human cells and can be used with manmade molecules to do something useful. But the team believes that by laying the foundation for a DNA computer with natural maintenance capabilities, future research will be able to apply the chemical computers to improve drug delivery and watch a human's organs for signs of trouble.
Of course there's also a downside (or upside, depending on your perspective) which the authors don't mention. The ability to build DNA computers which generate responses that can interact with the cell's natural DNA and biomolecules is highly weaponizable. For example future researchers could make a DNA computer that lay dormant for some given amount of time, then triggered cells to become aggressive cancer tumors, and then release yet more factors that encouraged those deadly tumor cells to metastasize.
DNA computers could also be weaponized to produce signals that trigger tumorgenic behavior in cells and then trigger metastasis to up the damage. [Image Soure: NursingCrib]
Such an approach would offer difficult-to-detect assassinations or be applied on a broader scale as a means of chemical warfare.
The current work was
in the journal
, one of academia's most prestigious peer-reviewed journals. It was funded in part by a $2M USD grant from the
National Science Foundation
(NSF) to UW electrical engineering professor
, a co-author on the work.
Univ. of Wash.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
Polio And Stem Cell
10/4/2013 10:54:49 AM
Feels like Polio with Stem Cell. There's a chip that is ultra-low watt method. Feels like it can measure and calibrate. Upon concentration and strength of the polio. And can splice it up with a 'wireless tesla splicer'. To find which part is the grow rate is at. And splice serum that locks circulation. Can splice at the right time you measure and re-splice it back to see reaction is growing or not. With skin shedding like a snake to shrink you can shrink. And grow enormous at the end of your limbs. Also the adult stem cell can now emulate embryo. Not an expert though.
"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
New DNA Computer Can Calculate Square Roots of Integers Up to 15
June 3, 2011, 8:37 PM
Researchers Observe DNA-RNA Transcription Process Directly for the First Time
January 20, 2011, 9:01 AM
The Newest Idea in Logic Chips Revolves Around DNA
May 17, 2010, 9:19 AM
Cool Science Video: Glowing Millipede Prowls the Nevada Desert
May 18, 2015, 12:00 PM
Newly Discovered Costa Rican Glass Frog is Kermit's Doppelgänger
April 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Researchers Hope to Find "Exotic" Lifeforms Inside Crater of Dinosaur Killing Meteor
April 14, 2015, 8:47 PM
Mathematician's Sociological Formulation May Explain the "Hipster Paradox"
April 14, 2015, 1:13 PM
Cool Science Video: This is What a McDonald's Burger Looks Like in Your Stomach
April 7, 2015, 1:43 PM
Fraud Artist Engineered Stunning UK Jailbreak Via Typosquatting, Email
April 4, 2015, 2:57 PM
Most Popular Articles
America's Largest Cable Company, Comcast, Sees Internet Subscriptions Pass TV
May 4, 2015, 2:46 PM
Chromebooks Expected to See Sales Grow 26 Percent to 7.3 Million Units This Year
May 22, 2015, 1:26 PM
Don't Spy on Me: Senate Pushes Obama's PATRIOT Act Renewal Bid to the Brink
May 25, 2015, 8:21 PM
Buzzfeed, NatGeo, NBC, and NYT Pay to Push Stories to Your Facebook Feed
May 13, 2015, 4:31 PM
No Matter What the AP Tells You, Google's Self-Driving Cars are Pretty Safe
May 12, 2015, 1:06 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information