JERUSALEM, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Israeli researchers turned a bacterial cell into a biological computer that can monitor toxic substances in human body, the northern Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) reported on Sunday.
In this computer, which is like the ordinary computers, circuits perform complex calculations, where genetic circuits replace the electronic ones.
In their study, published in the journal Nucleic Acids Research, Technion researchers reorganized the genetic structure of an enzyme called Luciferase, used to generate light through chemical reaction.
By splitting the enzyme's natural genetic structure, the researchers created various genetic circuits and inserted them into cells of an Escherichia coli bacterium.
As a result, the engineered bacteria emitted signals because of computational action within the cell, thus using smart biosensors to monitor and quantify infections, as well as toxic and other substances.
This method has been successfully tested for monitoring nalidixic acid, a dangerous substance that damages the DNA and drives cancer processes.
Next, the researchers intend to program the bacterial cell to warn of bleeding in the human body.
"This is actually a new, or renewed organism, not created in a normal evolutionary process but in a planned engineering process of synthetic biology," the researchers concluded.