Technion Scientists Develop Biological Computer

June 6, 2013

2 min read

The Technion (Photo: Beny Shlevich, Wiki Commons)
The Technion (Photo: Beny Shlevich, Wiki Commons)

Scientists at Haifa’s Technion University have developed a complex computer made entirely of biological materials.  The computer is capable of iterative calculations (where the output of one calculation becomes the input of the next) and researchers demonstrated its ability to divide binary numbers by three.

The advantage of such a machine is not speed or power, according to Professor Ehud Keinan, but its ability to interact directly with biological systems — even living organisms — and produce biologically meaningful outputs without the need for an additional interface.  Keinan produced the study along with three others: postdoctoral fellows Dr. Tamar Ratner and Dr. Ron Piran of the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry; and Dr. Natasha Jonoska of the department of Mathematics at the University of South Florida.  The study was published in the journal Chemistry and Biology of the Cell.

Keinan went on to say, “Every one of us is a biomolecular computer, that is, a machine in which all components are molecules “talking” to one another in a logical manner….”  The significance of their transducer is that it is a successful synthetic creation.  “This DNA-based transducer offers multiple benefits, such as the ability to read and transform genetic information, miniaturization to the molecular scale, and the aptitude to produce computational results, which interact directly with living organisms. Therefore, its implementation on a genetic material may not just evaluate and detect specific sequences, it can also alter and algorithmically process the genetic code. This possibility opens up interesting opportunities in biotechnology, including individual gene therapy and cloning.”


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