Navigation Links
Caltech engineers build first-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 medicine news :

1. Army Corps of Engineers Will Host National Get Outdoors Day Activities at Six Corps Project Sites
2. Exeter engineers create new technique for malaria diagnosis
3. Congressional R&D Caucus co-chairs join scientists, engineers and graduate students
4. World-renowned bioengineers to record history of medical inventions
5. Sheffield engineers have big ideas for the latest in medical scanners
6. Microbes as climate engineers
7. Engineers use bloods hydrodynamics to manipulate stem, cancer cells
8. SMRT Architects and Engineers Selected to Design New $115M Digital X-Ray Manufacturing Facility for GE Healthcare
9. Engineers developing new cements to heal spinal fractures
10. SalesForce4Hire Builds Custom Sales Force for Division of Leading Worldwide Health Care Company
11. HealthSouth Announces Plans to Build New Hospital in Arizona
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:8/19/2017)... ... ... “Congratulations! It's A Boy! God’s Gift: A Story of Love”: a children’s book ... A Boy! God’s Gift: A Story of Love” is the creation of published authors, ... by Christian Faith Publishing, Dale Anthony and Rachael Anthony’s new book is a perfect ...
(Date:8/18/2017)... , ... August 18, 2017 ... ... Quick International, LLC (“Quick”), a highly specialized asset-light logistics provider of complex ... into a definitive agreement to purchase Unitrans International Corporation, a division of ...
(Date:8/18/2017)... ... 18, 2017 , ... As an industry leader, Eppendorf is ... will present the line of epMotion automated liquid handling system. This automated liquid ... everyday pipetting tasks. , Ideal for scientists and lab technicians with no or ...
(Date:8/18/2017)... ... August 18, 2017 , ... Moore Insurance, a Houston ... east Texas, is launching a regional charity effort to provide publicity assistance and ... Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (PBTF) has raised nearly $30 million in donations that ...
(Date:8/18/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... August 18, 2017 , ... The Golseth ... in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, is spearheading a regional charity campaign organized to provide ... , In early June of this year, Christina and her children returned from out ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:8/15/2017)... , Aug. 15, 2017 AccuGenomics, Inc., a ... , today announced that the company has provided an ... of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and to Qura ... to characterize and quantify HIV reservoir and viral expression ... intervention. The HIV Cure Center is a joint initiative ...
(Date:8/8/2017)...  BioLineRx Ltd. (NASDAQ/TASE: BLRX), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company ... results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2017. ... 2017 and to date: ... the Company,s lead project, BL-8040: Announced ... as novel stem cell mobilization treatment for autologous bone-marrow ...
(Date:8/7/2017)... Pharmacy, Inc. (NYSE: DPLO), the nation,s largest independent specialty pharmacy, ...  All comparisons, unless otherwise noted, are to the quarter ended ... Second Quarter 2017 Highlights include: Revenue ... 3.5% Total prescriptions dispensed of 220,000, compared ... 7.6% Gross profit per prescription dispensed ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: