June 19, 2012 18:38
Cell of a living organism — it is an amazing and extremely complex microscopic object which can itself take care of themselves. But the cell — is not something that can be called intelligent. But in the future this may change due to the fact that scientists have been able to make cells that are able to perform at the biochemical level logic and simple arithmetic. This new function of cells may become the basis for the future creation of implantable living bodies or their parts, which can act as a computer, performing inherent in their program.
Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich), taking samples of embryonic cells of renal tissues, they have introduced biological versions of digital logic circuits and components. Each modified cell is logical summing or subtraction that operate with binary numbers encoded in the form of biochemical information.
Group of bioengineers led Fasseneggerom Martin (Martin Fussenegger), created molecular logic gates using as elements of biological molecules floretina transistors, a protein enzyme that activates nerve cells and molecules erythromycin, an antibiotic drug action. Both are working as biological transistors of different conductivity.
Molecules of the substances mentioned above, scientists have formed a complex logic circuits, analogs of the most basic logic gates, AND, OR and NOT. Fed to the input of a logic element 1 or 0, encoded biochemically, and the output of the calculation results as shaped fluorescent protein staining cells in green or red. If all inputs biological gate not present any signal, calculations are not made and the cell is not colored in any of the colors.
The most interesting in this development is the fact that the reaction occurring in the cell-calculation in no way affect the life of the cell, so that "computer" of the cell can safely live in a living organism, performing their main function and computing. The only problem that exists in this case — is that the result of the calculations made by a single cell can not be used as an input for the logic circuits of another cell. But scientists have already started working to ensure compatibility of input and output signals, and if they succeed, it will be possible to create a large biological computing systems, comparable in complexity to modern computer microprocessors.
Despite the fact that the world already has a variety of options for computer circuits and biological systems, in fact, "smart" cells created by scientists ETH Zurich, are the most difficult to date biological logic circuits. In addition, such cells can be made from almost any kind of tissue cells are taken directly from the patient, which solves the problem of rejection of implantable biological "computers" that can diagnose the disease themselves, introduce drugs and provide an interface between a living organism and other electronic devices .