Scientists at MIT have been progressing further into the development of human cell engineering. This time, they have been using CRISPR, the genome-editing system, to create human cells that are capable of storing ‘memories’ within its DNA. This analog memory storage system is the first of its kind that is able to record the duration and intensity of events in human cells and is quite extraordinary. It works by building upon past work developed by scientists that involved programming cells in flipping sections of DNA when certain events occur.
Previously research was largely focused on bacteria. But now, with technology advancing and scientists moving towards working on human cells, a new area of study has been created. Cellular events such as gene regulation can now be monitored more closely to see how it impacts disease. The researchers were also able to create cells capable of recording multiple input sources such as the antibiotic doxycycline and the lactose-like molecule IPTG.
The researchers proved that they were able to engineer cells to detect and record more than one output by producing self-targeting RNA strands within the same cell. The data they have uncovered will allow them to conduct a much closer study on the impact of various diseases and infections. This system could potentially be used for monitoring inflammation or infection or to monitor the progression of diseases such as cancer. Other potential uses include tracking how cells specialize into different tissues throughout the development process.
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