BIO-COMPUTERS

  • Scientists at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) recently outlined a plan for a potentially revolutionary new area of research called organoid intelligence, which aims to create “bio-computers”.
  • Organoid intelligence is an emerging interdisciplinary scientific field aiming to establish a new type of biological computing system.
  • These next-generation biocomputers will harness the computational power of the brain by using lab-grown brain organoids as ‘biological hardware’.
  • Biological computers are made from living cells.
  • Instead of electrical wiring and signaling, biological computers use chemical inputs and other biologically derived molecules such as proteins and DNA.
  • Potential of biological computers
  • Once a single biological cell is programmed, it’s extremely cost-effective to grow billions more with only the cost of the nutrient solutions and a lab tech’s time.
  • It’s also anticipated that biocomputers might actually be more reliable than their electronic counterparts.
  • They can just program cells to do the job they need them to do, for example, program cells to fight cancer or deliver insulin to a diabetic’s bloodstream.

What are brain organoids?

  • Brain organoids are three-dimensional cultures of brain cells grown in the lab.
  • They are generated from stem cells
  • Stem cells are unique cells that can become any type of cell under the right conditions

Challenges

  • It differs from biology as in the goal of biology is to reverse engineer things that have already been built while Biocomputing aims to forward engineer biology.
  • When dealing with biological environments in what is known as a “wet lab,” organisms might react unpredictably.

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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