DNA computing on the way

Boffins at Caltech claim to have found a method of DNA computing which they think almost viable.

Apparently the boffins have created the world’s largest computational circuit based on DNA and it can can find the square root of numbers up to 15. Obviously it is not our DNA which still has difficult with the seven times table.

However, the boffins think that this is the first step as the technology is scalable and the beginning of a bold new world which will see biological systems with standard information-processing techniques.

The big idea is that one day DNA computing could execute logical functions much like regular silicon-based computers. The advantage is that they would be smaller and work better with the body. A biological circuits could be directly embedded in cells or tissues to detect and treat diseases.

According to the June 3 issue of Science, which we get for the spot the nano competition, Caltech researchers Erik Winfree and Lulu Qian formed 130 different synthetic DNA strands that can be used to compose logic circuits.

They used this to create one 74-molecule, four-bit circuit that can compute the square root of any number up to 15 and round down the resulting answer to the nearest integer.

The multi-layered strands of DNA are made into biochemical logic gates that can perform the basic Boolean AND, OR and NOR operations.

The down side is that the execution of a single gate can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Working out a four-bit square root could take up to 10 hours, which is still faster than us.