Writers of the science fiction genre, have for years been feeding us a vision of computers based on biological components. It turns out that the vision of such equipment can soon be realized in the real world.
Two independent groups of scientists have succeeded in constructing the first biological equivalent of a transistor, an integral part of modern electronics. This will make it easier to design devices based on biological cells, such as biosensors, that could be used to detect contaminated water.
Drew Endy of Stanford, Calif., And colleagues designed a transistor-like device that controls the movement of RNA polymerase along the DNA strand, just as electrical transistors control the flow of current in the circuit.
Different enzymes, depending on the sequence of logical gates, allow you to initiate or pause the flow of the polymerase. It is also possible to increase the flow, which is one of the essential functions of a transistor that provides power to other components integrated into the circuit. A similar device was also designed by MIT Timothy Lu.
According to Paul Freemont of Imperial College London, this type of device may in future be key components of live-cell technology. For example, bacterial cells are well suited for the detection of pathogens and chemicals, so they can be used to produce cheap biosensors.
In principle, the possibilities of this technology are limited only by our imagination and in the future technology can be used to produce live bridges or buildings that would grow from natural materials controlled by biological circuits.