Biocomputer kills cancer cells, spares healthy ones

September 4th, 2011 - 3:15 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 4 (IANS) Scientists have designed a biocomputer which can identify and kill cancer cells without harming the healthy ones.

Biocomputers use biologically derived materials such as DNA or proteins to perform programmed functions.

Synthetic biologist Yaakov Benenson of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich collaborated with Ron Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, to design a multi-gene synthetic “circuit” to distinguish between cancer and healthy cells.

This circuit works by sampling cancer-specific molecular factors and their concentration, ensuring a highly precise detection, the journal Science reports.

The scientists tested the gene network in two types of cultured human cells: cervical cancer cells, called HeLa cells, and normal cells, acording to a Swiss Federal Institute statement.

The genetic biocomputer, when introduced into different cell types, destroyed only HeLa cells, but spared the healthy ones.

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