12 Jul 2011

Biomolecular computer promising in diagnostics

There's more progress in developing devices that use of biological molecules to compute information in our bodies to diagnose disease and release drugs. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have published findings in Nano Letters with their tiny computer that is designed to detect multiple molecular signs of disease.
"We envision nanometer-sized computing devices (made of biomolecules such as DNA) to roam our bodies in search of diseases in their early stage," Binyamin Gil, of the Weizmann Institute, tells PhysOrg.Com in an article published last week. "These devices would have the ability to sense disease indicators, diagnose the disease and treat it by administering or activating a therapeutic biomolecule. They could be delivered to the bloodstream or operate inside cells of a specific organ or tissue and be given as a preventive care."
The convergence of computer science and molecular biology, among other fields, has been hot as of late. Last month, a group from Caltech trumpeted their own progress in developing an advanced DNA computer with potential applications in disease diagnostics and research. Yet routine use of the devices in humans is likely years away and will require the tiny devices to hold together in the body long enough to do their job.
Published June 14 in Nano Letters, the Weizmann Institute group's research describes a biomolecular computer that can detect such molecular indicators as mRNA, small molecules and a DNA binding protein.

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