In A First, Scientists Develop Tiny Implantable Biocomputers
2007-05-30 0:00

From: sciencedaily.com


This work is a crucial step towards building biological computers, tiny implantable devices that can monitor the activities and characteristics of human cells. (Credit: Kobi Benenson)
Researchers at Harvard University and Princeton University have made a crucial step toward building biological computers, tiny implantable devices that can monitor the activities and characteristics of human cells. The information provided by these "molecular doctors," constructed entirely of DNA, RNA, and proteins, could eventually revolutionize medicine by directing therapies only to diseased cells or tissues.

"Each human cell already has all of the tools required to build these biocomputers on its own," says Harvard's Yaakov (Kobi) Benenson, a Bauer Fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences' Center for Systems Biology. "All that must be provided is a genetic blueprint of the machine and our own biology will do the rest. Your cells will literally build these biocomputers for you."

Evaluating Boolean logic equations inside cells, these molecular automata will detect anything from the presence of a mutated gene to the activity of genes within the cell. The biocomputers' "input" is RNA, proteins, and chemicals found in the cytoplasm; "output" molecules indicating the presence of the telltale signals are easily discernable with basic laboratory equipment.

"Currently we have no tools for reading cellular signals," Benenson says. "These biocomputers can translate complex cellular signatures, such as activities of multiple genes, into a readily observed output. They can even be programmed to automatically translate that output into a concrete action, meaning they could either be used to label a cell for a clinician to treat or they could trigger therapeutic action themselves."

Benenson and his colleagues demonstrate in their Nature Biotechnology paper that biocomputers can work in human kidney cells in culture. Research into the system's ability to monitor and interact with intracellular cues such as mutations and abnormal gene levels is still in progress.

Benenson and colleagues including Ron Weiss, associate professor of electrical engineering at Princeton, have also developed a conceptual framework by which various phenotypes could be represented logically.

A biocomputer's calculations, while mathematically simple, could allow researchers to build biosensors or medicine delivery systems capable of singling out very specific types or groups of cells in the human body. Molecular automata could allow doctors to specifically target only cancerous or diseased cells via a sophisticated integration of intracellular disease signals, leaving healthy cells completely unaffected.

Benenson and Weiss worked in collaboration with undergraduate Keller Rinaudo, postdoctoral researcher Leonidas Bleris, and summer intern Rohan Maddamsetti, all at Harvard, and with Sairam Subramanian, a graduate student at Princeton. Their research is supported by Harvard University and a center grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The results will be published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Harvard University.

Article from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070521140917.htm



Related Articles
The next big bang: Man meets machine
The next big bang: Man meets machine
Why Embryonic Stem Cell Research? It's About Human Engineering, Not Ending Disease
The Creation of Smarter Than Human Intelligence
Science's new blend mixes man and beast
Better... Stronger... Faster...
Team develops DNA switch to interface living organisms with computers
DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA
Deep DNA memory theories: Can we remember our ancestorsí lives?


Latest News from our Front Page

Forget About The Apple Watch, Implantables Are Coming
2015-07-31 21:13
That is right, the implantable. In the past decade of tech innovation, connectivity has been the name of the game. Call your friend in the middle of the night in Antarctica. Facetime with your sister on vacation in India. Talk about the movie you saw with friends in London. Anything is possible with the push of a button and now ...
"Too many white people" in Pittsburgh says government official
2015-07-31 2:14
According to Abby Wilson, the deputy director of the Department of Health’s Bureau of Public Policy and Community Relations in Allegheny County, there are too many White people in Pittsburgh. She left Pittsburgh to work in South Africa and then study in the Netherlands, but now that she’s back, she wants to change it. “My two main gripes (about Pittsburgh) are: too ...
Judge blocks group from releasing more Planned Parenthood videos
2015-07-31 2:35
The pro-life group behind a series of undercover Planned Parenthood videos accused the bioservice firm StemExpress late Wednesday of trying to ‚Äúcover up this illegal baby parts trade‚ÄĚ after the company obtained a court order blocking the release of footage. The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a temporary injunction Tuesday stopping the Center for Medical Progress from releasing any video showing ...
US Fish & Wildlife Service Investigating Killing Of Cecil The Lion
2015-07-31 2:18
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the agency is investigating the killing of Cecil the Lion, saying it will ‚Äúgo where facts lead.‚ÄĚ The agency made the announcement via Twitter Thursday. Also Thursday, the Eden Prairie Police Department said that, while they will be stepping up neighborhood monitoring, they will not be providing personal protection for the dentist who killed ...
Dispute over bounced check caused brutal Hollywood shotgun killing: Cops
2015-07-31 2:40
Carrie Melvin, an aspiring Hollywood production assistant, was strolling with her boyfriend not far from Sunset Boulevard on the evening of July 5 when someone murdered her with a shotgun. Police have now arrested a suspect, Ezeoma Obioha, 31, and say his motivation was likely a dispute over a bounced check worth just a few hundred dollars. A Los Angeles ...
More News »