Bi-Fi Biological Internet
Researchers from Standford University have come up with a new revolutionary process in bioengineering which could help bioengineers create complex, multicellular communities that work together to carry out important biological functions. The “Bi-Fi” technology uses an innocuous virus called M13 to increase the complexity and amount of information that can be sent from cell to cell. It is firstly essential to separate the messenger and the message when speaking about communication between cells, this will allow an increase in amount of transmitted data.
The virus M13 has been selected to act as the messenger because when it infects bacteria, it doesn’t kill its host but makes itself at home indiscriminately sending out DNA strands that it reproduces within its host. The engineers are able to control these strands of DNA, so custom DNA messages can be wrapped within proteins produced by M13 and sent out to infect other cells. Arriving in a new cell, they release the packaged DNA message. Now that the messages have been separated form the channel, any DNA message can be sent to specific cells within a complex microbial community. The system resembles a wireless internet connection that allows cells to send and receive messages with any content. If the Bi-Fi biological internet continues to develop it might result in appearance of biosynthetic factories consisting of enormous masses of microbes collaborating to produce complex fuels, pharmaceuticals and other useful chemicals. Complex three-dimensional programming of cellular systems, such as the regeneration of tissue of organs might also become a relity due to the biological internet.