A new DNA-based logic circuit can sense the signs of cancer, compute that a cell is cancerous, and then cause it to self-destruct, researchers say. The cell-level diagnostic system could be used for drug screening or perhaps for disease treatment, killing tumors while leaving healthy cells alone.
In principle, the circuit works like any other logic circuit: It analyzes multiple inputs and makes a decision. In this case, the circuit really consists of genes that can detect up to five cancer-specific molecules and their concentrations. When all five of those characteristics are present, the circuit makes a positive determination, and then it triggers cell death.
In a new study, researchers from MIT and ETH Zurich worked with HeLa cells, a prolific type of cervical cancer cell. They studied the cells' microRNA, which regulates gene expression by destroying messenger RNA, the substance that brings the DNA blueprint to the rest of the cell. They eventually pinpointed one microRNA combo that was unique to HeLa cells. This is no small feat by itself — there are about 1,000 versions of miRNA in humans, according to MIT News. Each type of cancer has a unique miRNA profile.
Once they had the right combination, the researchers designed a synthetic gene which codes for a protein that promotes apoptosis, or programmed cell death. The special gene would turn on in the presence of miRNA levels that match the HeLa profile.
"The biocomputer combines the factors using logic operations such as AND and NOT, and only generates the required outcome, namely cell death, when the entire calculation with all the factors results in a logical TRUE value," Yaakov Benenson, a professor of synthetic biology at ETH Zurich, said in a statement.
If the miRNA levels were too high or too low, the gene would not switch on, and the cell would not be killed. Healthy cells, which would also lack the HeLa profile, would be similarly left alone, the researchers said.
The next step would be to test this system in a living animal, but this will be difficult. Current methods use viruses or chemicals to bring foreign DNA inside cells, but these make permanent changes, which could have their own complications. So the method is still far from being usable for cancer treatment, researchers said.
Still, it is an important step toward building a single-cell-level diagnostic method, Benenson said. The research was published in today's issue of Science.
Obvious statement of the year: “Oh, I just hate spammers and it's so off topic”. No $hit.
I prefer the spammers to BubbaGump/BubbaGumb personally....
To know me and then read the first sentence is kind an irony wouldn't you say.
I felt as I pulled the string, the yo-yo's would come a spinning.
Good morning to you and I wish you all a good day!
I couldn't agree more. Only recently have I felt the need to comment here and it's mostly because everything Bubba writes is either irrevelent, pointless, or deliberately trying to annoy as many people as possible. I’m sure this just feeds that troll, but needed to be said...although I do enjoy reading comments, I'll need to learn to skip his.
Ever thought of just commenting on the article yourself.... I mean really. How hard can that be? Yes, it is a knee-jerk impulse to just say something negative about the article or to attack me or anyone; its easy.
Though it does take more effort to write a good comment
About the article; something you feel.
The down side to this openness, is people may make
fun of you and well..... Your just too shy to comment.
Well, anyone, comment all you want now. I off.... See you.
I look forward to you informative comments. It will be enriching, I am sure.
I need to say this and then I'm done:
I don't feel sorry for you because you write "The downside to this openness, is people may make fun of you and well....Your just too shy to comment"
In a previous comment you admit to saying things because you know that people will comment on the stupid things you say: "I felt as I pulled the string, the yo-yo's would come a spinning."
You are an annoying troll who rarely has anything relevant to say.
Really hope you understand that a lot of people who read PopSci feel the same way. I know that we can't stop you from posting whatever you want, but out of any sense of courtesy, could you please ease up on your relentless drivel that ends up in the comments section and really focus on saying something with relevance and substance.
I have something important to add.
I like waffles.
Oh, and cancer is bad. :(
@BubbaGump - "I felt as I pulled the string, the yo-yo's would come a spinning. "
ROFL ROFL ROFL ROFL.
So if we can't use virii to enact apoptosis in cancerous cells, then maybe we'll have to use nano-bots to keep from permanently changing our genetic structures or sequences.
ROFL=ROlling on floor laughing. I like facetiousness, irony, satire, and dry humor :) Last paragraph is @article
@j.seal, aw, now my clue cup runnith over, thank you.
xat.com/PopularScienceDiscussion im in there
um back to the artical...
I find this amazing this means that the cancer cells will ALL die instead of having a body part chopped off and "oh sorry," says the doctor, "it seems the cancer cells got in your blood stream and are now infecting somwhere else guess we have to chop that of to!" and then he says,"oh and that will be $4200 for the surgury!" and this happens again and again. i hope this dosent get trashed by mad doctors because they know they will lose all that money
*growls*If you troll or flare I WILL MAUL YOU!*growls*
I believe in BubbaGump.
This is awesome news. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined synthetic genes that force cancer cells to kill themselves. I just wonder if this approach could be used to deal with a lot of other diseases.
My mother passed due to breast cancer when I was only 19 years old. When she first learned she had it, she didn't know what kind of questions to ask. After she got a grip and learned of her options, she asked her specialist to perform a mastectomy. He had the gall to say that he "didn't believe" in such a procedure. By the time she found someone who would comply with her request, it was too late. The cancer, (which for a very brief time) went into remission, decided to come back with a vengeance and spread to her lungs and ultimately to her brain, overcame her will and perseverance.
If this technology can be refined, it may very well help a lot of cancer patients. It could be the "cure" we have all been waiting for. But, only time will tell. Here's to the advancement of medical technology. I hope we can, as a people, put greed aside long enough to prevent unnecessary suffering.
Sure people will die. But do we really need to suffer because drug companies need to make profit?
Oh come on how can you not like bubbagump what with his puppy dog pictures and questionable refferences to plannet x and the anunnaki. In my opinion hes the unsung pet kook of the popsci blog. A good natured break from the prompt and relavent.
Yup, but the world is already overpopulated enough, and the birth rate is already higher than the death rate. Just think about the population increases we would go through if everyone lived... Just a thought. I know that compassion keeps that kind of euthanasia in check, but when you think with your brain and not your heart, you get a different answer.
"Its no good I cant discuss!"
"Stay on topic"
"To many spammers"
"Stay on topic"
"Gold 5 to Redleader, we lost Harry and topic"
Back on topic, I hope they test the shit out of this thing. One anomally or mess up and killing the wrong cells, this could get dangerous. Test it test it test it. And after that test it some more until we break it. Then fix that and test again. Then release.
@BubbaGump Cool story Broski.
Back to topic
@Senyu I could not agree more, however keep in mind that the faster this comes to market, the more lives that might be saved. Perhaps allowing those with something like terminal brain cancer to voluntarily try it would be a possibility?
I'll add to this article by saying, my Dad passed away last year with stage 4 lung cancer. I watched him go from a strong stable man, to a mere vessel in TWO MONTHS! For people who go through such a painful process as chemo and radiation therapy, I believe this to be a huge step forward in cancer research.
What Is Science but A Continual Lesson of The Challenge To Studying The Entire Known Existence of Everything.
I wonder if other readers found this article interesting and wanted to comment their own thoughts but were afraid to be bullied.
How far and wide are the avenues of the mind? It’s interesting we humans are allowed to think, dream and perceive in so many directions. I adore this aspect of being human.
The polyp growth in this story made my mind wonder off to a tanget..... I do that...
One man’s wheel is another man donut. Is it wrong to suddenly speak of donuts? I love the chocolate ones with little sprinkles on top... mmm, so yummy!
@Senyu Couldn't it be like in Stargate where the Nanobots end up taking control of the brain and replicating themselves? I mean, despite what we say about living things, they're all made from atoms which could be controlled to a certain degree. We may one day wake up to find ourselves turned into machines... but then wouldn't that mean we have evolved? Like Cyborgs and such?