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Cellular Computers Get a Boost With CRISPR

Cellular Computers Get a Boost With CRISPR

Rich Spuller
Rich Spuller

Cancer’s impenetrable secrets partly rely on its mysterious molecular history.

As cells turn to the dark side, a whirlwind of DNA changes gradually accumulate. Like flipping multiple interlinked light switches, the cell gradually changes its internal molecular operations, until its once-beneficial nature turns malevolent. Why, when, and how this sinister transformation happens is still unknown, and cancer only rears its ugly face when it’s often too late.

But what if there’s a way to capture that transformation from the very beginning?

This month, a team at MIT tapped the computational power of DNA to transform it into a minicomputer. Similar to its silicon counterpart, the technology dubbed DOMINO allows cells to read and write life events into single letters in its DNA. Unlike previous generations of cellular recorders that disrupt large chunks of genomic information, DOMINO alters data at the “bit” level. This keeps the cell functional, while massively increasing…
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