Imagine if DNA was the same as circuits in our computers, where we could come up with a code to perform the functions we want easily, and then implement them into the structures that needed them. According to an MIT professor, they have done just that! A programming language dedicated to forming DNA sequences can be used to reprogram cells to have specific functions. While still early, this could have many different applications.
Just like programming a computer, a text language has been formed that can create biological circuits in cells to have them act in specific ways. Currently, only simple functions have been created. These include sensing temperature and light, as well as other environmental levels. This program allows the quick creation of these functions in order for them to be tested quicker and their effects studied.
If this research continues, eventually researchers could develop specific bacteria with functions that help a host organism. For example, scientists could create bacteria that break down lactose, in order to help those who are lactose intolerant. Other bacteria could be created to live in host organisms and protect them, such as in plants. In plants, these cells could be programmed to release insecticides in response to the plant being eaten. This is just a start, so there is no telling what amazing creations could come from this.
- Chris Richard