Tech UPTechnologyThey create computers

They create computers

celulas-sinteticasA work carried out by researchers at Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) has shown that, by means of multiple combinations of genetically engineered cells, biological systems with decision-making capacity can be achieved according to predefined criteria. This will allowgenerate “live computers”much more complex than those that had been achieved so far, capable ofmake decisions autonomously but based on previous, programmed instructions.

The work, which is published in the magazineNature, supposes an importantadvancement in the field of synthetic biology, and it has been carried out thanks to the close collaboration between a theoretical biology group, the Complex Systems Laboratory, directed by Ricard Solé, and an experimental biology group, the Cell Signaling Unit, directed by Francesc Posas.

Until today scientists had tried to design living computers from the basic concepts of electronics, with the difficulty that the connection between different parts of a circuit could not be achieved by means of a cable that transmits electricity between separate elements in space when it is a living system.

In this work, the problem has been solved with a new theory that allows to build sophisticated circuits using living cells as basic units and very few connections. Thus, it has been achievedcreate a set of cells capable of detecting and interpreting signals and that can be flexibly combined with each other. As if it were the pieces of a LEGO, the system allowsdifferent cells can be reused to form new circuits. In other words, it is a system that allows many different circuits to be created with a minimum of existing cells. In addition, once a circuit is established to program it, it is enough to add a certain compound in the culture medium in which it is found.

The results could be applied in the detection of molecules and their subsequent directed degradation, as well as for the design of cell populations with the ability to behave asartificial fabrics.

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