The future of life sciences appears to be even more reliant on computing than we had supposed, and vice versa. From computer technology fields to Huntingdon Life Sciences careers, biological systems are being studied more extensively than ever with the use of computer technology. It is definitely interesting to think about a computer system itself utilizing the building blocks of organic life. But that may be exactly what we’re headed toward with DNA computer chips, which some technology experts say could make up the next generation of computer chips, replacing silicon as the ideal substrate for advanced computing.
The basic premise relies on mixing DNA with molecules that have special light sensitive materials which only require light in order to create logic gates. Logic gates, which are the building blocks of a computer system, are comprised of Boolean functions. DNA chips would involve mixing these functions with DNA bases that would include DNAzymes (most commonly E6 and 8-17), deoxyoligonnucleotides, enzymes, DNA tiling, and polymerase chain reactions. The process is not entirely new. After all, the rudimentary computers MAYA I and II were created by using DNA stem loops to create logic gates.
These logic chips could create microscopic biological computing which could create complex biological sensors, “biomarkers” in the blood, that may be able to forewarn us of disease. Specifically, many scientists imagine a near future in which we can infuse molecular machines inside the human body and use them to diagnose and even treat diseases. Applications such as these could also include flushing the arteries of plaque, attacking cancer cells, and even cleaning up environmental toxins. Indeed, many scientists think that the combination of biochips with nanotechnology could make for several compelling strategies for repairing environmental damage.
Additionally, the benefits of DNA computer chips would include cheaper circuitry costs and eco-friendly manufacturing practices. Silicon microprocessors require a variety of different toxic materials, whereas “biochips” would leave virtually no carbon footprint. We can also consider the fact that silicon is a finite material, whereas DNA can conceivably viewed as renewable, so long as cellular organisms remain on the Earth.
Biologists and computer scientists both agree that the incredible structure of DNA lends itself to computing. Now it’s just a matter of making more and more complex logic gates, until we’re able to fully harness the power of biology in computing.