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Thanks for the New Phobia

Researchers from Harvard University and Bar Ilan University in Israel have designed nano-scale robots using DNA origami that can interact with one another within a living creature, as they report in Nature Nanotechnology this week.

"DNA nanorobots could potentially carry out complex programs that could one day be used to diagnose or treat diseases with unprecedented sophistication," Daniel Levner, a bioengineer at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, tells the New Scientist.

These DNA nanorobots perform logic operations, and their interactions lead to logical outputs that then switch molecular payloads on or off, the researchers say. After a proof-of-principle test and prototyping phase, the researchers injected the nanorobots into cockroaches to control a molecule targeting their cells

"The higher the number of robots present, the more complex the decisions and actions that can be achieved. If you reach a certain threshold of capability, you can perform any kind of computation. In this case, we have gone past that threshold," co-author Ido Bachelet from Bar Ilan says.

They plan on scaling up the compute power of the nanorobots and hope to achieve the same power as an 8-bit computer, which the researchers note is about the same power as the Commodore 64s or Atari 800s they had as kids.