If you can program a computer to perform any action you want, why not do the same with a cell? Researchers are hard at work trying to write code made of DNA and RNA to program a living cell in order to control it, reports The Economist. "Rather than encoding ones and zeroes into high and low voltages that switch transistors on and off, the idea is to use high and low concentrations of these molecules to propagate signals through a kind of computational soup," The Economist says. Microsoft researcher Luca Cardelli tells the magazine that "if you can program events at a molecular level in cells, you can cure or kill cells which are sick or in trouble and leave the other ones intact." DNA-based logic circuits can perform a variety of operations, like recognizing patterns based on available data, and responding accordingly, The Economist says. "Molecular circuits can even detect and respond to a disease signature inside a living cell, opening up the possibility of medical treatments based on man-made molecular software," it adds.
The Cellular CPU
Mar 06, 2012