Biological computer encrypt decipher images

Biological computer to encrypt and decipher images

1:34 AM, 13th February 2012
Biological computer to encrypt and decipher images
Scientists have developed a “biological computer” capable of deciphering images encrypted on DNA chips. As a proof of concept, the scientists encrypted the Scripps Research and Technion logos on a single DNA chip and, using software, decrypted the separate fluorescent images.

LA JOLLA, US: Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute and the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology have developed a ‘biological computer’ made entirely from biomolecules that is capable of deciphering images encrypted on DNA chips. Although DNA has been used for encryption in the past, this is the first experimental demonstration of a molecular cryptosystem of images based on DNA computing. Ehud Keinan, Professor, Scripps Research and his team used bio-molecules instead of traditional computer hardware. When suitable software was applied to the biological computer, it could decrypt fluorescent images separately.

“In contrast to electronic computers, there are computing machines in which the four components are nothing but molecules. For example, all biological systems and even entire living organisms are such computers. Every one of us is a biomolecular computer, a machine in which all four components are molecules that ‘talk’ to one another logically,” said Keinan. The hardware and software in these devices, Keinan notes, are complex biological molecules that activate one another to carry out some predetermined chemical work. The input is a molecule that undergoes specific, predetermined changes, following a specific set of rules (software), and the output of this chemical computation process is another well-defined molecule. Various small DNA molecules are mixed in solution with selected DNA enzymes and ATP. The latter is used as the energy source of the device.

“Our biological computing device is based on the 75-year-old design by Alan Turing. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalization of the concepts of algorithm and computation, and he played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer. Turing showed convincingly that using this model you can do all the calculations in the world. The input of the Turing machine is a long tape containing a series of symbols and letters, which is reminiscent of a DNA string. A reading head runs from one letter to another, and on each station it does four actions: reading the letter; replacing that letter with another letter; changing its internal state; and moving to next position. A table of instructions, known as the transitional rules, or software, dictates these actions. Our device is based on the model of a finite state automaton, which is a simplified version of the Turing machine, explained Keinan.

Each computing step is slower than the flow of electrons in an electronic computer, the fact that trillions of such chemical steps are done in parallel makes the entire computing process fast. “Considering the fact that current microarray technology allows for printing millions of pixels on a single chip, the numbers of possible images that can be encrypted on such chips is astronomically large. No interface is required since all components of molecular computers, including hardware, software, input, and output, are molecules that interact in solution along a cascade of programmable chemical events. Because of DNA’s ability to store information, major computer companies have been extremely interested in the development of DNA-based computing systems,” said Keinan.

© The Scripps Research Institute News

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