Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series


PostedJanuary 11, 2009

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Randy Atkins: The “computers” are made of biological molecules called R-N-A.  Similar to D-N-A, they’re known for transmitting genetic information.  But Christina Smolke, a Cal Tech engineer, is programming them to do more…like sense biochemical imbalances.

Christina Smolke: This R-N-A computer would take that as input, perform the computation.  It would be able to say, “yes, this is a diseased cell” or “no, this is not a diseased cell.  And then it could do a variety of different things.

Randy Atkins: Like calculate, and even release, the precise type and amount of medicine needed on the spot.

Christina Smolke: They’re recognizing diseased cells and then triggering the therapeutic effect only within those diseased cells.

Randy Atkins: Smolke says such targeting should reduce side effects.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103 point 5 F-M and WTOP-dot-com.


Human trials are at least five years away.