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Engineering bacteria to perform like a computer


Narrator:            This is Science Today. Synthetic biologists at the University of California, San Francisco, have engineered bacteria to communicate and perform computations like a computer. Chris Voigt explains that they programmed E. coli bacteria with molecular circuitry that allows it to perform like a logic gate in computers. This was done by creating molecular circuits in bacteria that are based in the DNA.

Voigt:                  Once you're able to program a cell, that gives you complete control over everything that happens in biology. So, all of the things that biology can do, you can then control and so everything from materials to chemicals to agriculture and so on, it just gives you that next layer of being able to engineer and reprogram living cells.

Narrator:            Potential applications could include drug delivery in the human body. 

Voigt:                  So, you can imagine for example, taking a bacterium that already has the ability to move within the human body and reprogramming that in order to deliver a therapeutic.

Narrator:            For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.