Biological Computers | Earth & Life Sciences | Biology

Biological computers, Blue gene, Face recognition technology

Abstract: Biological computers are special types of microcomputers that are specifically designed to be used for medical applications. The biological computer is an implantable device that is mainly used for tasks like monitoring the body's activities or inducing therapeutic effects, all at the molecular or cellular level. The biological computer is made up of RNA (Ribonucleic Acid - an important part in the synthesis of protein from amino acids), DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid - nucleic acid molecule that contains the important genetic information that is used by the body for the construction of cells; it's the blue print for all living organisms), and proteins.

Advantages
The main advantage of this technology over other like technologies is the fact that through it, a doctor can focus on or find and treat only damaged or diseased cells. Selective cell treatment is made possible. The biological computer can also perform simple mathematical calculations. This could enable the researcher to build an array or a system of biosensors that has the ability to detect or target specific types of cells that could be found in the patient's body. This could also be used to carry out or perform target-specific medicinal operations that could deliver medical procedures or remedies according to the doctor's instructions. This not only makes the healing process easier. It also allows the doctors to focus only on the damaged, diseased or cancerous cells found in the patient's body without causing stress to other healthy and normal cells.

How It Works
Biological computers are made inside a patient's body. The researchers or doctors merely provide the patient's body with all of the necessary information or a "blueprint" along which lines the biological computer would be "manufactured." Once the "computer's" genetic blueprint has been provided, the human body will start to build it on its own using the body's natural biological processes and the cells found in the body. As of today, reading signals produced by cell activity is not yet possible due to technological limitations. However, through the use of a tiny implantable biological computer, these cellular signals could easily be detected, translated and understood using existing medical and laboratory equipment.

The biotech revolution has allowed us to develop methods for detecting and quantifying molecules produced by living cells. The main inputs of the biological computer are the body's proteins. As with conventional computers. we can detect gene expression and activity. RNA. Gitlin | In the lab. The cellular activities that the biological computer could detect can even include those of mutated genes and all other activities of the genes found in cells. and we can pinpoint within a cell the precise location of proteins. a doctor or researcher can easily use the biological computer to identify all types of cellular activity and determine whether a particular activity is harmful or not. By Jonathan M. However. and other specific chemicals that are found in the human cytoplasm.Through boolean logic equations. we have many interesting and ingenious ways of looking at biological processes. It is especially useful in monitoring intercellular activity including mutation of genes. The output on the other hand could be detected using laboratory equipment. . Applications The implantable biological computer is a device which could be used in various medical applications where intercellular evaluation and treatment are needed or required. the biological computer also works with an output and an input signal.

Other mRNA strands can be designed to work for (A AND NOT B). thereby affecting which of the two mRNA strands gets expressed. Scientists at Harvard and Princeton have detailed the construction of a biological circuit that uses siRNA to affect boolean logic statements. for example. imagine the benefits to medicine if we could apply them in vivo (in a whole. There is a paper. that brings this dream a little bit closer to reality. thereby giving the logic expression (A AND B) OR (X AND Y). The output of the mRNA strand that isn't silenced can be a reporter protein: luciferase or GFP. and inputs X and Y inputting the other mRNA. it doesn't take much . Different endogenous inputs will control the expression of the various siRNAs.while these tasks are relatively easy to perform in vitro on a lab bench. Nanotech machines could be injected into a patient that would then monitor for certain conditions and respond accordingly. The circuit works by having two different mRNA strands that code for the same protein but contain untranslated regions that correspond to different siRNA sequences. published online today in Nature Biotechnology. and so on. living animal). Although this research describes relatively simple artificial molecular machinery. an example would be inputs A and B targeting one mRNA.

http://arstechnica. watching out for disease markers.” says Harvard’s Benenson.imagination to see the potential. Should they find such markers. “Each human cell already has all of the tools required to build these biocomputers on its own. the molecular logic circuits like this could chose the most appropriate action. a Bauer Fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Center for Systems Biology. “All that must be provided is a genetic blueprint of the machine and ." according to Harvard’s Yaakov “Kobi” Benenson.com/journals/science. That could involve inducing programmed cell death in the case of cancerous cells or synthesis of a drug in specific tissues. Biological machines can be implanted or even built within a patient's own cells that will act as biosensors. RNA and proteins can function inside the body as "molecular doctors. but that won't remain true for much longer.ars/2007/05/2 1/designing-biological-computers By Bill Christensen Biocomputers constructed entirely of DNA. Obviously such therapies remain vaporware for now.

coli mutations had had the learning . they could read about the intellectual cells in Greg Bear's 1984 novel Blood Music: His first E.” Benson and colleagues claim to demonstrate that biocomputers can work in human kidney cells in a culture. for example. Leonard Adleman. see the article Biomolecular Computer: The Tiniest Doc?. Dr. Phenotypes are characteristics that are measurable and that are expressed in only a subset of the individuals within that population (like blond hair or brown eyes). In theory. they have developed a conceptual framework by which various phenotypes could be represented logically. a computer scientist at USC. These molecular doctors could target only cancerous cells. Biomolecular computers have been proved in concept by researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science. researchers could build biosensors or medicine delivery systems that could single out specific cell types in the body. Science fiction fans didn't have to wait so long. discussed the possiblity of biocomputers as early as 1994. ignoring healthy ones. Your cells will literally build these biocomputers for you.our own biology will do the rest. Also. using a biocomputer as the calculation mechanism.

com/ct/Science-FictionNews.a much more complex miniature glass maze. he had run them through simple T-mazes....Using artificial proteins and hormones as a means of communication. They had soon outperformed planaria. he had incorporated them into Blymphocytes. He refuses to get drawn into detailed discussions of futuristic applications for the technology. http://www. Vergil had "trained" the lymphocytes in the past six months to interact as much as possible with each other and with their environment . and prefers to leave prophesying to others. Professor Ehud Shapiro is remarkably low-key when asked to predict how such research may eventually change the world.technovelgy. white cells from his own blood. At the . Removing the finest biologic sequences from the altered E..asp?NewsNum=1051 For a scientist who has just staked a claim to the first programmable and autonomous biological nanocomputer.capacity of planarian worms. giving sugar rewards. coli.

" DNA computing could possibly be used to streamline laboratory analysis of DNA. inside a living organism. as some have suggested." he says. he envisions DNA computers as a "molecular computing device that can operate initially in a test tube and eventually inside an organism and interact with its biochemical environment. Shapiro does not see his computer as a potential competitor to silicon-based electronic computing. Instead. "Based on the information it receives from the environment and medical knowledge encoded in the software it may diagnose the problem and prescribe a solution. he said. his incremental approach to the embryonic science of turning DNA into trillions of tiny computers. and then it could synthesis that molecule and output it." That's as far as Shapiro is willing to venture on the prospects of the technology. could happen within a decade. "In the longer term. has given Shapiro a keen sense of direction as he embarks upon a long-term mission. you may have medical applications in which this device can operate in vivo. .same time. This. by eliminating the need for sequencing. swimming inside a test tube.

and challenged Yaakov Benenson. Their modest initial goal was to find a way to use turn DNA into the most elementary mathematical computing device known as a finite automaton."I don't have an opinion on nanogurus or nanoapproaches. to help make it work.D. capable of answering "yes" or "no" to very basic questions about a bunch of zeroes and ones. Shapiro and his colleagues used the four components of a DNA strand known as A. a biochemistry Ph. it has software and it has hardware components. came after his Internet software company called Ubique was sold to IBM in 1998." he says dryly during an interview in his office at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. which is another molecule. "We constructed a molecular realization of this mathematical device." Shapiro says." To do this. Israel. "It has input. . C. "We know where we are and where we are going to go." The starting point for Shapiro. Shapiro stumbled upon research being done in molecular computing. It's just going to be a very long way. and when it computes it produces output. student. who recently published his design for a molecular computer in Nature magazine. Plotting a path back to academia.

The process continues several times until the computer delivers an answer to the question. especially when dealing with . Shapiro's research is the latest step forward in a field founded by Leonard Adleman of the University of Southern California. leaving the next section exposed.G and T to encode the zeroes and ones and create an input molecule with an exposed "sticky" end. the hardware gets to work. There are 765 different possible software programs that can be used for simple calculations. An enzyme called ligase seals the link. Adleman proved that DNA could compute. In 1994. Los Angeles. such as whether there are an even or odd number of zeroes or ones. in which the shortest route between several cities must be mapped without going through the same city twice. when he used the stuff to solve the "traveling salesman" problem. After hooking up. Conventional computers have extreme difficulty solving the problem. Then. Each exposed edge has a specific complementary DNA strand. another DNA strand -. and another called Fok-1 moves in to snip the strand.the software -swoops in to try and hook up with an exposed edge like a Lego piece attempting to lock into a complementary block.

But posed with a puzzle of how to figure out the shortest route between 100 cities -. This is because electronic computers are based on sequential logic. "His computer is measured in meters. "The calculation needed to be carried out by humans. which makes them good at solving a problem requiring lots of computations in a row. Although Adleman's computer was composed of many trillions of tiny DNA molecules swimming around in a test tube." Experts point out that Shapiro faces stiff competition and will be challenged to scale up the work to perform more complex computations. ours is measured in nanometers.conventional computers do not make the grade. Adleman demonstrated that DNA could be an efficient way to solve such problems. who can put a trillion of his own biological computers into a drop of solution.a problem best cracked by simultaneously performing an enormous number of short operations -. the computer is just the molecules. . Shapiro says his DNA computer is fundamentally different from Adleman's breakthrough. In our case." says Shapiro. Shapiro says it was essentially a large operation that required active involvement of scientists.many points on a map.

singling out DNA computing research at Princeton University and the University of Wisconsin that has gone beyond the finite automaton." Reif said. For his part.John Reif. "People are really aggressively pushing the limits. Shapiro has taken an important theoretical step forward by building a model of a molecular Turing Machine. Science still has no clue how to create designer enzymes that could pave the way to dramatic progress. described Shapiro's work as "ingeniously constructed experiments" that clearly demonstrated the ability to perform simple computations via solid experimental protocols." he added. The biggest stumbling block now is the dependency on natural enzymes. Shapiro has no illusions. . alongside the finite automaton. squarish model. professor of computer science at Duke University. "But there is a lot of competition out there in the DNA computing world. It is in this green. so the challenge for the Israelis is to go in and push those limits as defined by some of those strong competitors. which is a representation of a computing device capable of an infinite number of computations. meaning scientists must search for the right enzymes that could help perform computations on DNA.

In the meantime. “All that must be provided is a genetic blueprint of the machine and our own biology will do the rest. "We have made a first small step in this direction. Your cells will . "I believe this will keep me busy until I retire. a Bauer Fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Center for Systems Biology." according to Harvard’s Yaakov “Kobi” Benenson. he is keeping focused on the scientific challenges ahead -.and plans to be tied up in his DNA strands for a while. “Each human cell already has all of the tools required to build these biocomputers on its own. cfm?ARTICLE_ID=267662 Biocomputers constructed entirely of DNA. RNA and proteins can function inside the body as "molecular doctors." he says.” says Harvard’s Benenson.smalltimes." http://www. that Shapiro sees the real potential for molecular computing.com/articles/stm_print_screen. The ability to create a molecular Turing Machine would allow scientists to use DNA to generate massive computing power.sitting in a cardboard box in his office.

coli mutations had had the learning capacity of planarian worms. see the article Biomolecular Computer: The Tiniest Doc?. using a biocomputer as the calculation mechanism. Also. Biomolecular computers have been proved in concept by researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science. he had run them . discussed the possiblity of biocomputers as early as 1994. they could read about the intellectual cells in Greg Bear's 1984 novel Blood Music: His first E. These molecular doctors could target only cancerous cells. In theory.literally build these biocomputers for you. Leonard Adleman. a computer scientist at USC. Science fiction fans didn't have to wait so long. ignoring healthy ones. Phenotypes are characteristics that are measurable and that are expressed in only a subset of the individuals within that population (like blond hair or brown eyes). researchers could build biosensors or medicine delivery systems that could single out specific cell types in the body. Dr.” Benson and colleagues claim to demonstrate that biocomputers can work in human kidney cells in a culture. for example. they have developed a conceptual framework by which various phenotypes could be represented logically.

Removing the finest biologic sequences from the altered E. giving sugar rewards...com/ct/Science-FictionNews.Using artificial proteins and hormones as a means of communication.a much more complex miniature glass maze.through simple T-mazes.asp?NewsNum=1051 . he had incorporated them into Blymphocytes. white cells from his own blood. coli. Vergil had "trained" the lymphocytes in the past six months to interact as much as possible with each other and with their environment .technovelgy... They had soon outperformed planaria. http://www.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful