Documenting the Coming Singularity

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Getting Biologics and Electronics to Talk to Each Other

Kurzweil News - Dec. 3. 2012

Would it be possible to integrate biological components with advanced robotics, using biological cells to do machine-like functions and interface with an electronic nervous system — in effect, creating an autonomous, multi-cellular biohybrid robot?

Researchers Orr Yarkoni, Lynn Donlon, and Daniel Frankel, from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Newcastle University think so, and they’ve developed an interface to allow communication between the biological and electronic components*, described in an open-access article in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics journal.

One of the major challenges in developing biohybrid devices is in the interface between biological and electronic components. Most cellular signals are simply not compatible with electronics.  However, manipulation of signal transduction pathways is one way to interface cells with electronics.

So the researchers genetically engineered protein cells from a Chinese hamster ovary to produce nitric oxide (NO) in response to visible light. Here’s how:

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