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Ear to the Ground

Scientists Manipulate Cells With Computerized DNA

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Posted on Mar 30, 2013
andylepp (CC BY 2.0)

Researchers at Stanford University used genetic material to develop substances akin to “biological computers” that can monitor and possibly one day take control of cells into which they’ve been injected.

The team described their system of “genetic transistors” in a paper published in the journal Science on Friday. The transistors can be turned on and off as certain conditions are met. Eventually they could act as microscopic living computers that detect the presence of toxins, learn how many times a cancerous cell has divided and determine the precise effects of an administered drug.

The transistors could command a cell to do specific things, like destroy itself. In the case of cancer, this would obviously be beneficial. But it also constitutes the development of a new kind of micro-weapon.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Huffington Post:

“We’re going to be able to put computers into any living cell you want,” lead researcher at the Stanford School of Engineering Drew Endy explained to the San Jose Mercury News. “We’re not going to replace the silicon computers. We’re not going to replace your phone or your laptop. But we’re going to get computing working in places where silicon would never work.”

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