The “biological computer” is made from the organic molecules and is capable of working within the living cells of organisms. The tiny biodegradable devices could detect changes in the environment, deliver drugs within the body or even destroy potentially cancerous cells. Scientists have already worked out how to use biological molecules to store information and to transmit data from one cell to another.
The latest study, published in Science and reported in The Independent, adds the third critical component of computing – a biological transistor that acts as a “logic gate” to determine whether a biochemical question is true or false.
Drew Endy, assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University in California, who led the study, said the discovery could help science develop a computer to detect disease. “Biological computers can be used to study and reprogram living systems, monitor environments and improve cellular therapeutics,” he said.
Biological computers have been the dream of electronic engineers for decades because they open the possibility of a new generation of ultra-small, ultra-fast devices that could be incorporated into the machinery of living organisms.

“For example, suppose we could partner with microbes and plants to record events, natural or otherwise, and convert this information into easily observed signals. That would greatly expand our ability to monitor the environment,” Professor Endy said. “So the future of computing need not only be a question of putting people and things together with ubiquitous silicon computers. The future will be much richer if we can imagine new modes of computing in new places and with new materials – and then find ways to bring those new modes to life,” he said.