Bionic cells can do basic arithmetic
FORGET smartphones, how about a smart arm? Human cells capable of performing simple arithmetic could one day be implanted in your body as a biological computer to diagnose disease, administer drugs or interface with electronic devices.
Martin Fussenegger and colleagues at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich created biological versions of two key digital circuits inside two sets of embryonic kidney cells: a half adder and half subtractor. As the names suggest, they add or subtract two binary numbers. These are the most complex biological circuits ever created, and could form the building blocks of more advanced computational circuits.
Biological circuits capable of simpler computations have been developed before, but most are made of DNA molecules or bacteria, which would be difficult to implant in humans. “In order to be of any therapeutic relevance in the future, you need to establish these things in mammalian cells,” says Fussenegger.
11 months ago
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