College of Medicine team develops nanoscale ‘computer’ that controls function of protein, influences cell behavior

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Dr. Nikolay Dokholyan is superimposed on a photo of Penn State's Nittany Lion statue.Nikolay Dokholyan, PhD, MS

Scientists and health care providers have sought to create nanoscale computers for use in precision health care. Now, for the first time, Penn State College of Medicine researchers have produced a nanocomputing agent that can control the function of a particular protein that is involved in cell movement and cancer metastasis. This development could someday lead to the construction of complex nanoscale computers for the prevention and treatment of cancer and other diseases.

January 3, 2022Penn State College of Medicine News

Nikolay Dokholyan, G. Thomas Passananti Professor at the College of Medicine and Penn State Cancer Institute researcher, and his colleagues — including Yashavantha Vishweshwaraiah, postdoctoral scholar in pharmacology at the College of Medicine — created a transistor-like “logic gate,” a type of computational operation in which multiple inputs control an output.

“Our logic gate is just the beginning of what you could call cellular computing, but it is a major milestone because it demonstrates the ability to embed conditional operations in a protein and control its function,” Dokholyan said. “It will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of human biology and disease and introduces possibilities for the development of precision therapeutics.”

Other Penn State authors on the paper include Jiaxing Chen, graduate student; Venkat Chirasani, postdoctoral fellow; and Erdem Tabdanov, assistant professor of pharmacology. The authors declare no competing interests.

The National Institutes of Health and the Passan Foundation supported this research.

Read the full story on Penn State News

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