In 2002, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, unveiled a programmable molecular computing machine composed of enzymes and DNA molecules instead of silicon microchips. On April 28 2004, Ehud Shapiro, Yaakov Benenson, Binyamin Gil, Uri Ben-Dor, and Rivka Adar at the Weizmann Institute announced in the journal Nature that they had constructed a DNA computer. This was coupled with an input and output module and is capable of diagnosing cancerous activity within a cell, and then releasing an anti-cancer drug upon diagnosis.
DNA computing is fundamentally similar to parallel computing in that it takes advantage of the many different molecules of DNA to try many different possibilities at once.
For certain specialized problems, DNA computers are faster and smaller than any other computer built so far. But DNA computing does not provide any new capabilities from the standpoint of computability theory, the study of which problems are computationally solvable using different models of computation. For example, if the solution time of a problem grows exponentially with the size of the problem (EXPSPACE problems) on von Neumann machines it still grows exponentially with the size of the problem on DNA machines. For very large EXPSPACE problems, the amount of DNA required is too large to be practical. (Quantum computing, on the other hand, does provide some interesting new capabilities).
DNA computing overlaps with, but is distinct from, DNA nanotechnology. The latter uses the specificity of Watson-Crick basepairing and other DNA properties to make novel structures out of DNA. These structures can be used for DNA computing, but they do not have to be. Additionally, DNA computing can be done without using the types of molecules made possible by DNA nanotechnology (as the above examples show).
ADVANCES FOR DNA COMPUTING UW RESEARCHERS EXPAND UPON DNA COMPUTING TECHNOLOGY BY SHOWING IT CAN BE USED ON A SOLID SURFACE.(Local/ Wisconsin)
Jan 13, 2000; Most people don't think of DNA, the blueprint for life, as a computer. But there is a branch of science called DNA computing in...