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Creating a programming language for cells

 

Narrator:            This is Science Today. A way to program cells like robots to perform complex tasks for pharmaceutical and industrial applications is being developed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. Synthetic biologist Chris Voigt says what they're basically trying to do is create a programming language for cells.

Voigt:                 You need to create circuits that are based in the DNA that when you can connect those circuits, you can connect those circuits, you can build more complicated programs to allow you to get computational operations to run in cells.

Narrator:            This would give researchers the ability to program cells within the body to deliver therapeutic actions.

Voigt:                  I think one of the things that surprises people about this research is that you can take an electronic circuit and take that same function and have it be produced inside of a cell and one of the things to understand about that is that a circuit function is not necessarily electrons. In our case, take in genes that interact in a certain way in order to perform that same electronic function that would occur inside a computer.

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