Scientists create programming for cells

Apr

4

2016

Scientists have developed a programming language that cells can be controlled. This works because the written code is converted into a strand of DNA, which is then inserted into the cells.

The technology was developed by the authoritative MIT, and published in the scientific journal Science. According to Christopher Voigt, which works as a professor at the institute, it literally is a programming language: it can be written in text-based commands, which is then “compiled”. This means that the commands are converted into a DNA strand, which contains the same coded instructions. Subsequently, the strand DNA is introduced into the cell, after which it will read out the programmed genes.

MIT, the programming technique for cells have been successfully used in E. coli bacteria. In experiments a high probability of success was achieved: 92 per cent of the built-in functions worked as predicted in advance. This includes built biological circuits with different types of functions. In addition, the largest organic circuit was ever built, the researchers said. It has seven logic gates and was designed with 12,000 dna building blocks. In time, the programming must be “compatible” with other types of bacteria.

In the past, scientists have also been working to build chips based on DNA. In research in California and Israel a biological computer, for example, was built with DNA strands. Because DNA contains coded messages for building proteins, there is a lot of interest from biologists to take this build biological chips. With the programming language developed by MIT can the construction of such systems may be more easily. That is partly because the creators are planning to make the design interface available to everyone.

Soon there must appear a Web interface that allows users themselves to program commands. For this they need to have any knowledge of genetics. The researchers promise a user-friendly tool that can be used without experience.

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