Cell Out

Scientists Used CRISPR to Turn a Cell Into a Biological Computer

"Imagine a microtissue with billions of cells, each equipped with its own dual-core processor."

4. 17. 19 / Dan Robitzski
Marc Vidal/Victor Tangermann
Image by Marc Vidal/Victor Tangermann

Splinter Cell

Scientists say they’ve gene-hacked a human cell, using CRISPR tech to turn it into a tiny biological computer complete with the cellular analog of dual core processors.

The squishy little CPUs could eventually lead to powerful computers housed entirely within a cell, according to New Atlas, that would detect and treat diseases.

Logic Gates

The cellular computers, described in research published in the journal PNAS this month, mimic the normal process by which organisms turn genetic information into the proteins that carry out specific tasks within a cell.

The computer is programmed to take in specific genetic codes and perform computations that result in the production of a particular protein. Except instead of simply following the DNA’s genetic code as a cell does, the computer receives two inputs and combines them, calculating the correct protein to churn out.


Targeted Medicine

The researchers behind the cellular computers say that they could be programmed to scan for certain biomarkers signifying the presence of a disease and, if all the right conditions are met, mass produce molecules or proteins that could help treat it, according to New Atlas.

“Imagine a microtissue with billions of cells, each equipped with its own dual-core processor,” MIT researcher Martin Fussenegger told New Atlas. “Such ‘computational organs’ could theoretically attain computing power that far outstrips that of a digital supercomputer — and using just a fraction of the energy.”

READ MORE: CRISPR used to build dual-core computers inside human cells [New Atlas]

More on CRISPR: New CRISPR Tech Could Cure Herpes


Care about supporting clean energy adoption? Find out how much money (and planet!) you could save by switching to solar power at UnderstandSolar.com. By signing up through this link, Futurism.com may receive a small commission.

Share This Article


Copyright ©, Camden Media Inc All Rights Reserved. See our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Data Use Policy. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with prior written permission of Futurism. Fonts by Typekit and Monotype.