Core Technologies for ChemBioIT Roadmap: Shortlist
3. CELLULAR AND CELL-LIKE COMPUTATION SYSTEMS
- Cellular Synthetic Biology using radical GMOs
Synthetic biology at the cellular level transcends traditional genetic engineering in orchestrating complex novel functionality into organisms from multiple concerted genetic alterations (not isolated mutations or insertions). Typical targets are to modify bacteria as efficient fuel cells or for environmental remediation. It is increasingly clear that making major changes to the genomes of existing cells usually runs into major compatibility problems resulting form the lack of modularity of intracellular processes.
- Cellular computation and GRNs involving cell communication
One solution proposed by Solé and others is to distribute changes across multiple cells (retaining viability and simple added function) and use communicating processes involving multiple cells to achieve complex functionality. The modulation of GRNs can then be made more manageable towards achieving complex objectives with cell populations. It is yet unclear how well this can be exploited for complex spatial fabrication processes.
- Neural computation in artificial networks
Neural signal processing can be emulated without cells using sustained reaction-diffusion systems with multiphase and microfluidic systems. Such signal processing may also be of value in controlling complex chemical construction processes.
- Artificial tissue engineering using structured chemical/material scaffolds
The growth of artificial tissues in (partially programmable) chemically reacting dynamic scaffolds may provide a further interaction between fully biological and semi-autonomous, chemical construction processes.
- Information encoding in cellular systems
Apart from the experimental thrusts in this topic, progress towards ChemBioIT construction systems can also be made by theoretical computer science investigations of powerful sets of basic operations, information encodings and information flows that efficiently mediate construction and computation in cellular systems.