Washington: Scientists in the US claim
to have developed the world`s first "biological computer" that
is made from biomolecules and can decipher images encrypted on
A team from the Scripps Research Institute in California
and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology claims it has
created the computing system using bio-molecules, `Angewandte
Chemie` journal reported.
In the research, when suitable software was applied to
the biological computer, the scientists found that it could
decrypt, separately, fluorescent images of Scripps Research
Institute and Technion logos.
And, although DNA has been used for encryption
in the past, this is the first experimental demonstration of a
molecular cryptosystem of images based on DNA computing, say
the scientists led by Prof Ehud Keinan.
"In contrast to electronic computers, there are
computing machines in which all four components are nothing
but molecules," Prof Keinan said.
"For example, all biological systems and even entire
living organisms are such computers. Every one of us is a
biomolecular computer, a machine in which all four components
are molecules that `talk` to one another logically," he said.
The hardware and software in these devices, Keinan notes,
are complex biological molecules that activate one another to
carry out some predetermined chemical work.
The input is a molecule that undergoes specific,
predetermined changes, following a specific set of rules
(software), and the output of this chemical computation
process is another well-defined molecule.
But, what a biological computer looks like?
"This computer is built by combining chemical components
into a solution in a tube. Various small DNA molecules are
mixed in solution with selected DNA enzymes and ATP. The
latter is used as the energy source of the device.
"It`s a clear solution -- you don`t really see anything.
The molecules start interacting upon one another, and we step
back and watch what happens. And by tinkering with the type
of DNA and enzymes in the mix, researchers can finetune the
process to a desired result," said the scientists.
Added Keinan in a statment: "Our biological computing
device is based on the 75-year-old design by the English
mathematician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist Alan