Researchers at Imperial College in London have created biological logic gates similar to those used in integrated circuits using E.Coli bacteria and DNA.
"Logic gates are the fundamental building blocks in silicon circuitry that our entire digital age is based on," said Richard Kitney co-author of the research project recently published in the journal nature Communications. "Without them, we could not process digital information. Now that we have demonstrated that we can replicate these parts using bacteria and DNA, we hope that our work could lead to a new generation of biological processors, whose applications in information processing could be as important as their electronic equivalents."
According to a press release, the project group performed a successful test in which they showed that their biological gates can replicate the process that is equivalent to an electronic transistor gate that can be switched on and off. While Kitney said that his gates are the most advanced biological logic gates ever created, he conceded that they are not close to actually producing them for actual products.
The next step in the development are multiple gates in "more complex circuitry", which could one day lead to building blocks for "microscopic biological computers". Kitney envisions, for example, sensors that swim inside arteries, or even devices that detect and destroy cancer cells inside the body. There could also be pollution monitors that detect and kill "dangerous toxins such as arsenic".