Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers open the door to biological computers

15.12.2010
Genetically modified cells can be made to communicate with each other as if they were electronic circuits. Using yeast cells, a group of researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has taken a groundbreaking step towards being able to build complex systems in the future where the body’s own cells help to keep us healthy. The study was presented recently in an article in the scientific journal Nature.

“Even though engineered cells can’t do the same job as a real computer, our study paves the way for building complex constructions from these cells,” says Kentaro Furukawa at the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Cell- and Molecular Biology, one of the researchers behind the study.

“In the future we expect that it will be possible to use similar cell-to-cell communication systems in the human body to detect changes in the state of health, to help fight illness at an early stage, or to act as biosensors to detect pollutants in connection with our ability to break down toxic substances in the environment.”

Combining biology and technology
Synthetic biology is a relatively new area of research. One application is the design of biological systems that are not found in nature. For example, researchers have successfully constructed a number of different artificial connections within genetically modified cells, such as circuit breakers, oscillators and sensors.

Some of these artificial networks could be used for industrial or medical applications. Despite the huge potential for these artificial connections, there have been many technical limitations to date, mainly because the artificial systems in individual cells rarely work as expected, which has a major impact on the results.

Biotechnology challenges the world of computers
Using yeast cells, the research team at the University of Gothenburg has now produced synthetic circuits based on gene-regulated communication between cells. The yeast cells have been modified genetically so that they sense their surroundings on the basis of set criteria and then send signals to other yeast cells by secreting molecules. The various cells can thus be combined like bricks of Lego to produce more complicated circuits. Using a construction of yeast cells with different genetic modifications, it is possible to carry out more complicated “electronic” functions than would be the case with just one type of cells.
The University of Gothenburg research team is headed by professor Stefan Hohmann, and also comprises Kentaro Furukawa and Jimmy Kjellén.

The article Distributed biological computation with multicellular engineered networks, published in the scientific journal Nature on 8 December, was the result of a partnership with two Spanish research teams at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. The work forms part of the EU CELLCOMPUT project.

For more information, please contact: Stefan Hohmann
Tel.:
+46 (0)31 3608488
E-mail: 
stefan.hohmann@gu.se
Journal: Nature
Year published: (2010)
DOI: 10.1038/nature09679
Authors: Sergi Regot, Javier Macia, Núria Conde, Kentaro Furukawa, Jimmy Kjellén, Tom Peeters, Stefan Hohmann, Eulàlia de Nadal, Francesc Posas, Ricard Solé

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:
http://www.gu.se

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'
21.08.2018 | University of Rochester

nachricht Protein interaction helps Yersinia cause disease
21.08.2018 | Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases

21.08.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>