These days, the lines between technology and nature are blurring on the most fundamental level. Or they always did, but we’re just discovering it. In any case, we’re now learning how to control nature the same way we do computers.
Yesterday, a Harvard Medical School research team announced that they’ve succeeded in storing a 5-megabyte dataset onto DNA. (The largest ever.)
In May, Stanford University researchers successfully (for the most part) embedded a program into rewritable DNA memory—a program to turn on or off gene expression in a cell. (Done before, but not like this.)
Sound like sci-fi? Sure. Until you read how these guys are talking about the technology.
…this is changing as the gene-synthesis tools that are needed make new pieces of genetic circuitry become faster and cheaper…
Gene-synthesis tools. Genetic circuitry.
I’m a word guy, so I key in on words. And those words speak volumes to me.
The research is becoming common enough that people are making tools for it on some kind of scale and the tools are improving all the time, which to me smacks of an emerging technology.
A circuit like any other, except it’s biological. Slap ‘genetic’ in front of it, and it fits right in with electrical circuitry, digital circuitry…They’ve already incorporated it.
The Stanford researchers are the first to create a rewritable DNA ‘circuit,’ which can serve as a “biological data-storage device,” according to Nature.
The system consists of a stretch of DNA flanked by sites that signal to enzymes…instructing them to cut out the DNA and paste it back into the chromosome in the reverse orientation.