Could New Research Help Build Computers from DNA?

Patti MayonnaiseAugust 20, 2015921 Views
Computing DNA

According to the latest research to emerge from the University of East Anglia, we could very well be building computers from human DNA soon. Scientists have managed to uncover a method of “switching” the structure of DNA by utilizing copper salts and EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid.) This is an agent which is often found in household products and shampoos. While it was previously known that the structure of a portion of DNA could indeed by altered using acid, it does in turn cause it to fold into what is referred to as ‘i-motif.’

Bio Computing

However, with the new research very recently published in the journal Chemical Communications, scientists have revealed that the structure may be switched a second time to a hair pin structure by using positively charged copper cations. Consequently, the change may be reversed with the utilization of EDTA. Applications for the discovery include nanotechnology (where DNA is used to create tiny machines) as well as in DNA based computing (where computers are built from DNA instead of silicon.)

DNA Computing

This could actually be used for the detection of the presence of copper cations which can prove highly toxic to fish and other organisms living in water. The lead researcher Dr. Zoe Waller from UEA’s school of Pharmacy stated, “Our research shows how the structure of our genetic material – DNA – can be changed and used in a way we didn’t realize.”

“A single switch was possible before – but we show for the first time how the structure can be switched twice. A potential application of this finding could be to create logic gates for DNA based computing. Logic gates are an elementary building block of digital circuits – used in computers and other electronic equipment. They are traditionally made using diodes or transistors which act as electronic switches.”

“This research expands how DNA could be used as a switching mechanism for a logic gate in DNA based computing or in nano technology.”

DNA and Computers

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