Scientists make programmable circuits in HUMAN CELLS, in gene-editing breakthrough that they claim can lead to powerful & # 39; biocomputers & # 39;
- A new & # 39; dual-core & # 39; cell could help make powerful biocomputers say to researchers
- Application of the cells can help fight diseases such as cancer in the future
- By connecting cells in microtissue, scientists say the processing would increase
Researchers say they have successfully created a more powerful computer-like human cell that can ultimately be used to monitor people's health or even to fight cancer and other diseases.
Using the CRISPR-Cas9 genetic engineering tool, researchers were able to model a human cell after a computer and create what they refer to as & # 39; program scalable circuits & # 39 ;.
& # 39; This cell computer may sound like a very revolutionary idea, but that is not the case, & # 39; said Martin Fussenegger, professor of biotechnology and biotechnology at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering at the ETH Zurich in Basel.
& # 39; The human body itself is a large computer. Since time immemorial, metabolism has drawn the computing power of billions of cells. & # 39;
The biocomputers can switch gene expressions on and off to make proteins and therefore control and adjust our bodies accordingly. An artist & # 39; s impression is shown
The cell acts as a computer to change the expression of gene traits by using a special variant of the Cas9 protein to read RNA sequences and then turn gene expressions on and off to produce certain proteins.
Although the & # 39; technology & # 39; in this case it is biological, it accurately reflects how the CPU's function because the cell processor can be told to perform specific actions depending on the desired outcome.
By controlling the actions of the & # 39; cell computer & # 39; their creation could help to identify not only events in the body by responding to certain chemical processes or metabolic products, but also to respond to them.
For example, researchers say that if a certain biomarker stays in the body for a long time, this phenomenon may indicate that cancer is metastatic.
The & # 39; biocomputer & # 39; can then help direct growth and use its capabilities to remove it.
What separates the recent discovery from other biocomputers is the processing power, researchers say.
Scientists are not only imagining individual biocomputers, but entire cell networks that, in fact, can create a kind of smart tissue that would increase processing power.
& # 39; Imagine a microtissue with billions of cells, each equipped with its own dual-core processor. Such & # 39; computational organs & # 39; could theoretically achieve a computing power that is much higher than that of a digital supercomputer – and use only a fraction of the energy, & # 39; Fussenegger said in a statement.
What distinguishes recent developments from other biocomputers is the amount of processing power – new inventions promise to expand the possibilities. Artist & # 39; s impression
In the case of Fuessenegger's vision, the power supply to his mobile computer would be something surprisingly simple.
& # 39; Unlike a technical supercomputer, this large computer only needs a slice of bread for energy & # 39 ;, says Fussenegger.
The discovery marks a major breakthrough for scientists looking for computer-like cells that can help improve the human body.
Previous efforts have focused on the use of gene switches for proteins that scientists say are less suitable for processing information that can only process one command at a time.
The next step in promoting their biotechnology, researchers say, will be to add a multi-core processor that is capable of handling even more complex assignments and information.
WHAT IS CRISPR-CAS9?
CRISPR-Cas9 is a tool for making precise operations in DNA discovered in bacteria.
The acronym stands for & # 39; Clustered Regularly Inter-Spaced Palindromic Repeats & # 39 ;.
The technique includes a DNA cutting enzyme and a small label that tells the enzyme where to cut.
The CRISPR / Cas9 technique uses tags that identify the location of the mutation and an enzyme that acts as a small pair of scissors to cut DNA in a precise location, allowing small parts of a gene to be removed
By editing this tag, scientists can target the enzyme to specific parts of the DNA and make precise cuts wherever they want.
It has been used to silence genes & # 39; & # 39; – and effectively disable them.
When cellular machines repair the DNA break, it removes a small piece of DNA.
In this way researchers can precisely switch off specific genes in the genome.
The approach has previously been used to process the HBB gene that is responsible for a condition called β-thalassemia.