Cells genetically programmed with a biological “AND” gate might, for instance, be used to detect and treat cancer, says Endy. If protein A and protein B are present—where those proteins are characteristic of, say, breast cancer—then this could trigger the cell to produce protein C, a drug.
In the cancer example, says Endy, you’d want the cell to respond to low levels of cancer markers (the signal) by producing a large amount of the drug.
MIT‘s Lu says cellular circuits like his and Endy’s, which use enzymes to alter DNA, are admittedly slow. From input to output, it can take a few hours for a cell to respond and change its activity.
See on www.technologyreview.com