Apr 17, 2019

A biosynthetic dual-core cell computer

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, computing

ETH researchers have integrated two CRISPR-Cas9-based core processors into human cells. This represents a huge step towards creating powerful biocomputers.

Controlling through gene switches based on a model borrowed from the digital world has long been one of the primary objectives of synthetic biology. The digital technique uses what are known as logic gates to process , creating circuits where, for example, output signal C is produced only when input signals A and B are simultaneously present.

To date, biotechnologists had attempted to build such digital circuits with the help of protein gene switches in . However, these had some serious disadvantages: they were not very flexible, could accept only simple programming, and were capable of processing just one input at a time, such as a specific metabolic molecule. More complex computational processes in cells are thus possible only under certain conditions, are unreliable, and frequently fail.

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