Navigation Links
Caltech engineers build firast-ever multi-input 'plug-and-play' synthetic RNA device
Date:10/17/2008

PASADENA, Calif.--Engineers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have created a "plug-and-play" synthetic RNA device--a sort of eminently customizable biological computer--that is capable of taking in and responding to more than one biological or environmental signal at a time.

In the future, such devices could have a multitude of potential medical applications, including being used as sensors to sniff out tumor cells or determine when to turn modified genes on or off during cancer therapy.

A synthetic RNA device is a biological device that uses engineered modular components made of RNA nucleotides to perform a specific function--for instance, to detect and respond to biochemical signals inside a cell or in its immediate environment.

Created by Caltech's Christina Smolke, assistant professor of chemical engineering, and Maung Nyan Win, postdoctoral scholar in chemical engineering, the device is made up of modules comprising the RNA-based biological equivalents of engineering's sensors, actuators, and information transmitters. These individual components can be combined in a variety of different ways to create a device that can both detect and respond to what could conceivably be an almost infinite number of environmental and cellular signals.

This modular device processes these inputs in a manner almost identical to the logic gates used in computing; it can perform AND, NOR, NAND, and OR computations, and can perform signal filtering and signal gain operations. Smolke and Win's creation is the first RNA device that can handle more than one incoming piece of biological information. "There's been a lot of work done in single-input devices," notes Smolke. "But this is the first demonstration that a multi-input RNA device is possible."

Their work was published in the October 17 issue of the journal Science.

The modular--or plug-and-play--nature of the device's design also means that it can be easily modified to suit almost any need. "Scientists won't have to redesign their system every time they want the RNA device to take on a new function," Smolke explains. "This modular framework allows you to quickly put a device together, then just as easily swap out the components for other ones and get a completely different kind of computation. We could generate huge libraries of well-defined sensors and assemble many different tailored devices from such component libraries."

Although the work in the Science paper was done in yeast cells, Smolke says they have already shown that they can translate to mammalian cells as well. This makes it possible to consider using these devices in a wide variety of medical applications.

For instance, ongoing work in Smolke's laboratory is looking at the packaging of these RNA devices--configured with the appropriate sensor modules--in human T cells. The synthetic device would literally be placed within the cell to detect certain signals--say, one or more particular biochemical markers that are given off by tumor cells. If those biomarkers were present, the RNA device would signal the T cell to spring into action against the putative tumor cell.

Similarly, an RNA device could be bundled alongside a modified gene as part of a targeted gene therapy package. One of the problems gene therapy faces today is its lack of specificity--it's hard to make sure a modified gene meant to fix a problem in the liver reaches or is inserted in only liver cells. But an RNA device, Smolke says, could be customized to detect the unique biomarkers of a liver cell--or, better yet, of a diseased liver cell--and only then give the modified gene the go-ahead to do its stuff.


'/>"/>

Contact: Lori Oliwenstein
lorio@caltech.edu
626-395-3631
California Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Caltech scientists engineer supersensitive receptor, gain better understanding of dopamine system
2. Caltech biologists spy on the secret inner life of a cell
3. Caltech scientists create DNA tubes with programmable sizes for nanoscale manufacturing
4. Caltech researchers awarded $10M for molecular programming project
5. Caltech engineers build mini drug-producing biofactories in yeast
6. Caltech neurobiologists discover individuals who hear movement
7. Caltech scientists awarded $20 million to Power the Planet
8. Caltech researchers find dual-use sexual attraction and population-control chemicals in nematodes
9. UNC, Caltech research finds further evidence for genetic contribution to autism
10. UC San Diego bioengineers fill holes in science of cellular self-organization
11. Engineers create bone that blends into tendons
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/14/2017)... , June 15, 2017  IBM (NYSE: IBM ) ... international tech event dedicated to developing collaboration between startups and ... on June 15-17. During the event, nine startups will showcase ... value in various industries. France ... the international market, with a 30 percent increase in the ...
(Date:5/16/2017)...   Bridge Patient Portal , an enterprise ... EMR Systems , an electronic medical record solutions ... established a partnership to build an interface between ... Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice Solution (CPS), Centricity ... new integrations will allow healthcare delivery networks using ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... New York , April 19, 2017 ... competitive, as its vendor landscape is marked by the ... the market is however held by five major players ... Safran. Together these companies accounted for nearly 61% of ... of the leading companies in the global military biometrics ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/19/2017)... ... ... Biopharma ’s CEO and founder, Dr. Bob Harman DVM, MPVM, is featured in an interview ... Rising Tide". Dr. Harman and Dr. Riordan met in 2003 and have remained in ... of stem cell therapy and a fast friendship was formed. , Dr. Harman has been ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... , Sept. 19, 2017 ValGenesis Inc., ... (VLMS) is pleased to announce the strategic partnership with ... provide clients with validation services using the latest technology ... VTI will provide clients with efficient and cost-effective validation ... marketing partner for the ValGenesis VLMS system. ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... ... September 19, 2017 , ... ... Financial Services (NYS DFS) cybersecurity regulations have transitioned into full force ... organizations operating in the state (“Covered Entities”) to conduct an annual, professional, ...
(Date:9/18/2017)... ... September 18, 2017 , ... Scholarly publisher ... the SPIE Digital Library ( http://www.spiedigitallibrary.org ) on 15 August to a new ... user experience and incorporate a number of enhancements and new features, the website ...
Breaking Biology Technology: