Towards Molecular Automata For Medicine

In the same vein as artificial cells as medical machinery for the 2010s and 2020s, EurekAlert! reports on researchers developing molecular machinery for similar purposes: scientists "have made a crucial step toward building biological computers, tiny implantable devices that can monitor the activities and characteristics of human cells. The information provided by these 'molecular doctors,' constructed entirely of DNA, RNA, and proteins, could eventually revolutionize medicine by directing therapies only to diseased cells or tissues. ... Each human cell already has all of the tools required to build these biocomputers on its own. All that must be provided is a genetic blueprint of the machine and our own biology will do the rest. Your cells will literally build these biocomputers for you ... The biocomputers' 'input' is RNA, proteins, and chemicals found in the cytoplasm; 'output' molecules indicating the presence of the telltale signals are easily discernable with basic laboratory equipment. ... These biocomputers can translate complex cellular signatures, such as activities of multiple genes, into a readily observed output. They can even be programmed to automatically translate that output into a concrete action, meaning they could either be used to label a cell for a clinician to treat or they could trigger therapeutic action themselves." It's a whole new century out there.



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