DNA strand double helix 311.
(photo credit: Jerome Walker)
The Technion Israel Institute of Technology and the Scripps Research Institute
have developed a biological computer composed entirely of DNA molecules and
enzymes constructed on a gold-coated chip that can accept as many as one billion
programs. The biomolecules can decipher images encrypted on DNA chips. Although
DNA has been used for encryption in the past, this is the first experimental
demonstration of a molecular cryptosystem of images based on DNA
The results were published this week in the Journal of the
American Chemical Society by Prof. Ehud Keinan.
“In contrast to
electronic computers, there are computing machines in which all four components
are nothing but molecules,” Keinan said. “For example, all biological systems,
and even entire living organisms, are such computers. Every one of us is a
biomolecular computer, that is, a machine in which all four components are
molecules ‘talking’ to one another in a logical manner.”
computer is “built” by combining chemical components into a solution in a tube.
Various small DNA molecules are mixed in solution with selected DNA enzymes and
ATP. The latter is used as the energy source of the device.
“It’s a clear
solution, and you don’t really see anything,” Keinan said. “The molecules start
interacting upon one another, and we step back and watch what happens.”