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The Cellular CPU

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 Scan

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.

Survey Sees Genetic Literacy on the Rise, Though Further Education Needed

Survey participants appear to have higher genetic familiarity, knowledge, and skills compared to 2013, though 'room for improvement' remains, an AJHG paper finds.

Study Reveals Molecular, Clinical Features in Colorectal Cancer Cases Involving Multiple Primary Tumors

Researchers compare mismatch repair, microsatellite instability, and tumor mutation burden patterns in synchronous multiple- or single primary colorectal cancers.

FarGen Phase One Sequences Exomes of Nearly 500 From Faroe Islands

The analysis in the European Journal of Human Genetics finds few rare variants and limited geographic structure among Faroese individuals.