21 November 2019
Implantable biosensors that can override natural biological systems might sound like something from a science fiction movie, but research being undertaken by a USC PhD student could see them soon become a reality.
As part of USC’s Genecology Research Centre work to develop a DNA-based computing system, 27-year-old Bradley Harding has uncovered a new method to reset DNA logic gates.
“What this means is, for the first time we’ve been able to find a way to reuse specific sequences of DNA, known as DNAzymes,” Mr Harding said.
“DNAzymes have significant capacity for biocomputing and hold a lot of promise for information processing within advanced biological devices, but only if key capabilities are developed – including being able to reuse them so they can be activated and deactivated,” he said.
Mr Harding said his research, that was recently published in the prestigious global journal Nano Letters, opens the way for the advancement of biodevices.
“One example of this could be the future development of an implantable biosensor for people with diabetes that would react when blood sugar is high and then start synthetically creating insulin,” he said.
“Such a device doesn’t currently exist, but this research now means the potential is there for it to become a reality. We really are at the frontier of science with this work and the future possibilities are truly endless.
“I’d like to think that this work could form the foundation of helping humans adapt to the changing environment or even help remediate the environment in the face of climate change to help make it a healthier place for humans to live.”
Mr Harding’s research was co-supervised by USC’s Dr Joanne Macdonald and Dr Nina Pollak, assisted by collaborator Professor Darko Stefanovic from the University of New Mexico.
“It’s been a long four years of research, but it’s been an incredible experience being able to work with some amazing leaders in this field,” the USC Bachelor of Science graduate said.
- Megan Woodward