RNA-Based Biocomputing Device

A living programmable “ribocomputing” device based on networks of precisely designed, self-assembling synthetic RNAs (ribonucleic acid) has been created by synthetic biologists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.


(E. coli bacteria engineered to be ribocomputing devices output a green-glowing protein when they detect a specific set of programmed RNA molecules as input signals)

The research was performed with E. coli bacteria, which regulate the expression of a fluorescent (glowing) reporter protein when the bacteria encounter a specific complex set of intra-cellular stimuli. But the researchers believe ribocomputing devices can work with other host organisms or in extracellular settings.

Ribocomputing devices could also be freeze-dried on paper, leading to paper-based biological circuits, including diagnostics that can sense and integrate several disease-relevant signals in a clinical sample, the researchers say.

The first time I was compelled to think about these possibilities was in Blood Music, an amazing 1984 novel by Greg Bear.

Via KurzweilAI.

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