“Seelig describes himself as a molecular programmer. ‘We use nucleic acids as nanoscale building material for molecular circuitry. We can take advantage of design ideas from computer science and electrical engineering to build new programmable biological circuitry. The goal is to build complex control circuits that can behave similarly to existing biological circuits such as gene regulatory networks,’ Seelig said.”
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His team has built nucleic-acid logic circuits that function reliably in an aqueous, cell-free environment. Now the challenge is to create molecules that will detect mRNA and microRNA in a cellular environment and regulate target genes. Ultimately such circuits could lead to “smart” drug delivery systems to treat disease.