Technion Scientists Build Computer From Life - The Jewish Voice
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Technion Scientists Build Computer From Life

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The Technion, where scientists recently produced a biomolecularly driven computer.
The Technion, where scientists recently produced a biomolecularly driven computer.
Scientists at the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, have produced a computer from life.

The molecular transducer, produced towards the end of May, is a computing machine composed entirely of biomolecules such as DNA and enzymes, according to Israel National News.

The device is not only unique in its composition: It is functionally unique in that it computes iteratively, using old output as inputs for new output, and biologically unique in that its outputs are scientifically unique phenomena such as bacterial resistance, according to the aforementioned report.

A study concerning the transducer was published towards the end of May in the journal Chemistry & Biology of the Cell and authored by Professor Ehud Keinan, postdoctoral fellows Dr. Tamar Ratner and Dr. Ron Piran of the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry, and Dr. Natasha Jonoska of the Department of Mathematics at the University of South Florida.

“The ever-increasing interest in biomolecular computing devices has not arisen from the hope that such machines could ever compete with their electronic counterparts by offering greater computation speed, fidelity and power or performance in traditional computing tasks”, explains Professor Keinan, according to Israel National News. “The main advantages of biomolecular computing devices over the electronic computers arise from other properties. As shown in this work and other projects carried out in our lab, these systems can interact directly with biological systems and even with living organisms. No interface is required since all components of molecular computers, including hardware, software, input and output, are molecules that interact in solution along a cascade of programmable chemical events.”

“All biological systems, and even entire living organisms, are natural molecular computers. Every one of us is a biomolecular computer, that is, a machine in which all components are molecules “talking” to one another in a logical manner. The hardware and software are complex biological molecules that activate one another to carry out some predetermined chemical tasks. The input is a molecule that undergoes specific, programmed changes, following a specific set of rules (software) and the output of this chemical computation process is another well defined molecule.”

“Our results are significant because they demonstrate for the first time a synthetic designed computing machine that not only computes iteratively, but also produces biologically relevant results,” he continued. “Although this transducer was employed to solve a specific problem, the general methodology shows that similar devices could be applied for other computational problems.

“In addition to its enhanced computation power, this DNA-based transducer offers multiple benefits, such as the ability to read and transform genetic information, miniaturization to the molecular scale, and the aptitude to produce computational results, which interact directly with living organisms. Therefore, its implementation on a genetic material may not just evaluate and detect specific sequences, it can also alter and algorithmically process the genetic code. This possibility opens up interesting opportunities in biotechnology, including individual gene therapy and cloning,” Professor Keinan concluded.

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