U.S scientists say that they can turn living cells into computers or recording devices through a new technology that they developed. The artificial program shall be encoded in the cells’ DNA.
The technology is called DOMINO (DNA-based Ordered Memory and Iteration Network Operator), which works similar to the CRISPR gene editing method. DOMINO can trigger simultaneous DNA writing events — where one DNA mutation event triggers another – in response to biological signals. Thus, the acronym DOMINO.
Writing in the journal Molecular Cell, the team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the technology enables the deep interrogation of biology and the use of engineered cells as devices that can process, monitor, and store information occurring within cells and/or their environment.
Potentially it could be used to create sensors that sit in the body collecting and storing information for health monitoring, or in systems to measure and record contamination in rivers and waterways.
"We need better strategies to unravel how complex biology works, especially in diseases like cancer where multiple biological events can occur to transform normal cell into diseased ones," says senior author Timothy Lu.
"With this method we are using DNA as a memory tape to permanently record biological events that are occur in disease. This technology can give us deeper insights into what signals go up and down over time to drive disease development."
Instead of cutting the DNA at a specific location, as CRISPR does, DOMINO uses a base editing approach to overwrite DNA at particular locations.
See more details of this news over at Cosmos Magazine.
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