Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

DNA Computing Targets West Nile Virus, Other Deadly Diseases

Date:
October 17, 2006
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Researchers say that they have developed a DNA-based computer that could lead to faster, more accurate tests for diagnosing West Nile Virus and bird flu. Representing the first 'medium-scale integrated molecular circuit,' it is the most powerful computing device of its type to date, they say. In the future, the new technology could be used to develop instruments that can simultaneously diagnose and treat cancer, diabetes or other diseases, the scientists suggest.

DNA computer targets disease: Computers that process information using DNA instead of silicon chips could one day lead to faster, more accurate tests for diagnosing West Nile Virus, bird flu and other diseases, according to a team of researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York and the University of New Mexico. To demonstrate the potential of this technology, the team developed a prototype DNA computer, named MAYA-II, that plays a complete game of tic-tac-toe. Shown in the foreground is a cell-culture plate containing pieces of DNA that code for possible “moves.” A display screen (background) shows that the computer (red squares) has won the game against a human opponent (blue).
Credit: Photo : Courtesy of Columbia University Medical Center

Researchers say that they have developed a DNA-based computer that could lead to faster, more accurate tests for diagnosing West Nile Virus and bird flu. Representing the first "medium-scale integrated molecular circuit," it is the most powerful computing device of its type to date, they say.

Related Articles


The new technology could be used in the future, perhaps in 5 to 10 years, to develop instruments that can simultaneously diagnose and treat cancer, diabetes or other diseases, according to a team of scientists at Columbia University Medical Center in New York and the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Their study is scheduled to appear in the November issue of the American Chemical Society's Nano Letters, a monthly peer-reviewed journal.

"This is a big step in DNA computing," says Joanne Macdonald, Ph.D., a virologist at Columbia University's Department of Medicine. Macdonald led the research team that developed MAYA-II (Molecular Array of YES and AND logic gates) a "computer" whose circuits consist of DNA instead of silicon. She likens the significance of the advance to the development of the earliest silicon chips. "The study shows that large-scale DNA computers are possible."

"These DNA computers won't compete with silicon computing in terms of speed, but their advantage is that they can be used in fluids, such as a sample of blood or in the body, and make decisions at the level of a single cell," says the researcher, whose work is funded by the National Science Foundation. Her main collaborators in this study were Milan Stojanovic, of Columbia University, and Darko Stefanovic, of the University of New Mexico.

Macdonald is currently using the technology to improve disease diagnostics for West Nile Virus by building a device to quickly and accurately distinguish between various viral strains and hopes to use similar techniques to detect new strains of bird flu. In the future, she suggests that DNA computers could conceivably be implanted in the body to both diagnose and kill cancer cells or monitor and treat diabetes by dispensing insulin when needed.

Scientists have tried for years to build computers out of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), nature's chemical blueprint for life. But getting nano-sized pieces of DNA to act as electrical circuits capable of problem-solving like their silicon counterparts has remained a major challenge.

In a series of laboratory demonstrations over a two-year period, Macdonald and her associates showcased the computer's potential by engaging MAYA-II in a complete game of tic-tac-toe against human opponents, winning every time except in the rare event of a tie. Shown in the foreground of the picture above is a cell-culture plate containing pieces of DNA that code for possible "moves"; a display screen (background) shows that the computer (red squares) has won the game against its human opponent (blue).

Composed of more than 100 DNA circuits, MAYA-II is quadruple the size of its predecessor, MAYA-I, a similar DNA-based computer developed by the research team three-years ago. With limited moves, the first MAYA could only play an incomplete game of tic-tac-toe, the researcher says.

The experimental device looks nothing like today's high-tech gaming consoles. MAYA-II consists of nine cell-culture wells arranged in a pattern that resembles a tic-tac-toe grid. Each well contains a solution of DNA material that is coded with "red" or "green" fluorescent dye.

The computer always makes the first move by activating the center well. Instead of using buttons or joysticks, a human player makes a "move" by adding a DNA sequence corresponding to their move in the eight remaining wells. The well chosen for the move by the human player responds by fluorescing green, indicating a match to the player's DNA input. The move also triggers the computer to make a strategic counter-move in one of the remaining wells, which fluoresces red. The game play continues until the computer eventually wins, as it is pre-programmed to do, Macdonald says. Each move takes about 30 minutes, she says.

The American Chemical Society -- the world's largest scientific society -- is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "DNA Computing Targets West Nile Virus, Other Deadly Diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061016121606.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2006, October 17). DNA Computing Targets West Nile Virus, Other Deadly Diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061016121606.htm
American Chemical Society. "DNA Computing Targets West Nile Virus, Other Deadly Diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061016121606.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Sony Hack, What's Next?

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 19, 2014) The hacking attack on Sony Pictures has U.S. government officials weighing their response to the cyber-attack. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) It has been a long, busy year for Net Neutrality. The stage is set for an expected landmark FCC decision sometime in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins