Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biological computers: Genetically modified cells communicate like electronic circuits

Date:
December 14, 2010
Source:
University of Gothenburg
Summary:
Genetically modified cells can be made to communicate with each other as if they were electronic circuits. Using yeast cells, a group of researchers has taken a groundbreaking step towards being able to build complex systems in the future where the body's own cells help to keep us healthy.

Genetically modified cells can be made to communicate with each other as if they were electronic circuits.
Credit: University of Gothenburg

Genetically modified cells can be made to communicate with each other as if they were electronic circuits. Using yeast cells, a group of researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has taken a groundbreaking step towards being able to build complex systems in the future where the body's own cells help to keep us healthy. The study was presented recently in an article in the scientific journal Nature.

"Even though engineered cells can't do the same job as a real computer, our study paves the way for building complex constructions from these cells," says Kentaro Furukawa at the University of Gothenburg's Department of Cell- and Molecular Biology, one of the researchers behind the study. "In the future we expect that it will be possible to use similar cell-to-cell communication systems in the human body to detect changes in the state of health, to help fight illness at an early stage, or to act as biosensors to detect pollutants in connection with our ability to break down toxic substances in the environment."

Combining biology and technology

Synthetic biology is a relatively new area of research. One application is the design of biological systems that are not found in nature. For example, researchers have successfully constructed a number of different artificial connections within genetically modified cells, such as circuit breakers, oscillators and sensors.

Some of these artificial networks could be used for industrial or medical applications. Despite the huge potential for these artificial connections, there have been many technical limitations to date, mainly because the artificial systems in individual cells rarely work as expected, which has a major impact on the results.

Biotechnology challenges the world of computers

Using yeast cells, the research team at the University of Gothenburg has now produced synthetic circuits based on gene-regulated communication between cells. The yeast cells have been modified genetically so that they sense their surroundings on the basis of set criteria and then send signals to other yeast cells by secreting molecules. The various cells can thus be combined like bricks of Lego to produce more complicated circuits. Using a construction of yeast cells with different genetic modifications, it is possible to carry out more complicated "electronic" functions than would be the case with just one type of cells.

The University of Gothenburg research team is headed by professor Stefan Hohmann, and also comprises Kentaro Furukawa and Jimmy Kjellén.

The article Distributed biological computation with multicellular engineered networks, published in the scientific journal Nature on 8 December, was the result of a partnership with two Spanish research teams at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. The work forms part of the EU CELLCOMPUT project.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Gothenburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sergi Regot, Javier Macia, Núria Conde, Kentaro Furukawa, Jimmy Kjellén, Tom Peeters, Stefan Hohmann, Eulàlia de Nadal, Francesc Posas, Ricard Solé. Distributed biological computation with multicellular engineered networks. Nature, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/nature09679

Cite This Page:

University of Gothenburg. "Biological computers: Genetically modified cells communicate like electronic circuits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214122850.htm>.
University of Gothenburg. (2010, December 14). Biological computers: Genetically modified cells communicate like electronic circuits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214122850.htm
University of Gothenburg. "Biological computers: Genetically modified cells communicate like electronic circuits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214122850.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The incentive is in keeping with a Russian superstition that it's good luck for a cat to be the first to cross the threshold of a new home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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