Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Ribocomputer

PostedAugust 6, 2017

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LEDE: A new type of computer – that would be housed inside your body – is being engineered to combat diseases.

Randy Atkins: Your cells could be given genetic instructions for how to build their own biological computer that detects signs of cancer growth or viral replication. Alexander Green, an Arizona State University engineer, says this internal computer could also be programmed to launch a defense.

Alexander Green:  It can give a stop signal to the cells and stop them from replicating or trigger the immune system so that it can take care of the problem.

Randy Atkins: The so-called ribocomputer is made out of Ribonucleic Acid, or R-N-A, which turns genetic code into proteins. Its information input would be chemical, rather than electric, signals.

Alexander Green: It can read the sequences of RNA that the cell itself is producing and make a decision based on those.

Randy Atkins: Green’s team is currently testing the concept in live bacteria and thinks human trials could come in a decade or two.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.