A team of biological engineers at MIT have developed a new programming language which enables scientists to quickly develop designer DNA.
Thanks to a team of researches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) the future of smart drugs and in-utero treatments just became a whole lot brighter thanks to the development of a new programming language which allows researchers to quickly write designer DNA.
The programming language allows researchers to write complex functions for DNA sequences that can be placed inside cells. The functions in question can range from detecting or responding to issues on as broad a spectrum as a fever or a cancerous tumour. Read: Scientists create “˜living lens‘ from stem cells to treat blindness Christopher Voigt, a biological engineering professor at MIT, explained that “You use a text-based language, just like you’re programming a computer…Then you take that text and you compile it and it turns it into a DNA sequence that you put into the cell, and the circuit runs inside the cell.”
Previously, scientists have been able to construct biological circuits, but the process can take as long as a year to build. Voigt elaborated that thanks to the new programming language, DNA sequences can instead be produced with the touch of a button.
The programming language itself is comprised of computer elements that can be encoded into a DNA sequence thanks to a hardware description language dubbed Verilog, which is commonly used to design digital circuits in machinery and common electronics.
The programming language itself isn’t just available to researchers, however; Voigt cites that anyone will be able to use it to generate a DNA sequence. “You could be a student in high school and go onto the web-based server and type out the program you want, and it spits back the DNA sequence” Voigt stated. Read: The streets of Paris could soon be lit by bacteria
Presently, the language has been optimised for E. coli bacteria, and the team of researchers behind the programming language is working towards expanding its application to other forms of bacteria.
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