Increasingly Intimate Merging of Biology and Technology
There were countless magnificently metavalent breakthroughs in 2010, and the work of Prof. Itamar Willner’s Group is certainly in hot pursuit of some of the most noteworthy.
Just a couple of days ago, IEEE Spectrum reported that, “scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Israel, the University of Liege, in Belgium, and the University of California, Los Angeles, say they have built a molecular machine out of DNA that could act as a logic device for chemical sensing and medicine delivery. Unlike earlier DNA machines, the new device has a degree of memory, making it potentially programmable. DNA machines implanted throughout the body would be programmed to respond to biomarkers the same way they respond to acid in a laboratory setting. The biomarker would activate the DNA machine, causing it to spring open and release medicine to treat the problem.” For details see The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS): All-DNA finite-state automata with finite memory and American Chemical Society (ACS) Journal, Nano Letters DNA Machines: Bipedal Walker and Stepper.
In September, it was Biomolecule-Based Nanomaterials and Nanostructures.
Back in June, another Nano Letter published by ACS – Carbon Nanotube Transistor Controlled by a Biological Ion Pump Gate – described embedded nano-transistors, inside a cell-like membrane, powered by the cell’s intrinsic energy.
Discovery News added that this breakthrough “link[s] humans and machines more intimately than ever” and ZeeNews added, “Aleksandr Noy, a scientist at the University of California, Merced who is a co-author on the recent ACS Nano Letters, said: “This device is as close to the seamless marriage of biological and electronic structures as anything else that people did before. We can take proteins, real biological machines, and make them part of a working microelectronic circuit.” New Scientist described the breakthrough as, “A novel transistor controlled by the chemical that provides the energy for our cells’ metabolism could be a big step towards making prosthetic devices that can be wired directly into the nervous system.”
I suppose I should sit down and curate a proper Top Ten Metavalent Breakthroughs of 2010. Maybe after Christmas. Maybe not. We’ll see. We will definitely carry the #ComingOutCyborg theme into 2011, however.