Large-scale Architectures of Designer Phosphorylation Networks for Programmable Sensing and Actuation

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Using the tools and workflow of synthetic biology: top-down decomposition with bottom-up development coupled to continued refinement between modeling and measurement – we are able to engineer biological organisms with novel function. Shown here is a prototype device that would harbor yeast cells containing genetically encoded circuits that can detect chemicals of interest in blood or saliva and both diagnose as well as start administering basic treatment.

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When we smell something, it is due to odorant molecules in the air binding to sensory elements in our noses that convert those chemical interactions into electrical signals that our brain interprets as smells. We are creating programmable yeast sentinel cells that could operate to make a programmable synthetic nose that operates in much the same way. A drop of blood or saliva from a patient would be loaded onto an array of our ‘sentinel cells’ and measured for blood sugar or hormone levels and liver function. The cells would then change colors for abnormal readings and start administering basic treatments until a patient could get to a full hospital. 

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MIT

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