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Computers Made From Human Cells Could Tell You When You're Sick


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Implants may one day change color to warn us of cancer.

Scientists at ETH Zurich say they have created the worlds most complex biological computer.

Credit: Yulia Babkina/Alamy

Researchers at ETH Zurich in Switzerland say they have created the world's most complex biological computer, a group of engineered cells that could be implanted into the human body to detect diseases and deliver treatments.

The team notes the new system is made up of nine cells, each containing chemicals that respond to three inputs that are similar to an AND, NOT, and OR system in a traditional electronic circuit. These cells can coordinate their activities by releasing chemicals that pass from one cell to another.

When grouped together, the cells configure into a fully programmable circuit that can respond to multiple inputs.

The new multicellular approach enables researchers to program the circuit and achieve different computations simply by connecting the nine cells in different configurations, says ETH Zurich professor Martin Fussenegger.

"This work addresses one of the most pressing limitations in synthetic biology: a lack of programmable devices," says Angel Moreno at Newcastle University in the U.K.

From New Scientist
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