Scientists have created a miniature medical computer out of DNA that can detect cancer genes in a test tube and respond by releasing a drug. Proving what had been only a concept, the feat offers a vision of how medicine might look in the future.
A few years ago, Ehud Shapiro and his colleagues at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, developed a molecular computer out of DNA. It was capable of performing simple computations (Math Trek, Science News Online: Computers by the Trillions). In this biological nanocomputer, strands of DNA serve as software that control the activity of enzymes. The tiny device is listed in the 2004 Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest biological computing device. Trillions of these DNA-based computers could fit into a single drop of water.