DNA Automaton for Cancer Detection and Elimination of Cancer Cells

            As an emerging technology, DNA computing [1] is becoming more and more important in different fields, such as super computing, biology, chemistry, and medicine. Recently, Shapiro has proposed utilizing the computing power of DNA/RNA to detect cancer and block cancer expressions [2].  The basic idea of this approach is that by checking the mRNA strands in the cell, the DNA automaton is able to detect the presence of cancer indicators and release single-stranded DNA cancer suppressors if all cancer indicators are presented.


      However, there are several problems associated with this approach.  First, by blocking cancerous expressions in the cytosol, Shapiro’s automaton does not eliminate the cancer cell (pharmacodynamic problem).  Second, the delivery of the automata into human cells remains to be the main problem (pharmacokinetic problem).  To address the first problem, we propose the DNA-based Killer Automaton (DKA), which utilizes the method used in Shapiro’s automaton to detect the presence of cancer in human cells.  Upon detection, DKA releases cytotoxins to eliminate the cancer cell instead of blocking its cancer expression with antisense.  Furthermore, due to the existence of the homologous Gap Junctional Intercellular Communication (GJIC) channels between cancer cells, the released cytotoxins are able propagate to neighboring cancer cells, therefore, it has the potential to completely remove the cancer cell line with minimal side effects.  To demonstrate the mechanism of DKA and to approximate its efficacy, we have constructed a software simulation program to simulate the interactions between DKA and a cancer cell line in three stages, namely, cancer detection, elimination of the host cancer cell, and cytotoxin propagation.  Our simulation results show that the efficacy of DKA linearly depends on the cancer cell density and the number of DKA injected into the cell group.  To address the second (pharmacokinetic) problem, many innovative drug delivery technologies, such as nanoparticles, multifunctional liposomes, and viral vectors can be utilized to deliver DKA into human cells.  And these are out of the scope of our current research.  



Poster presentation
NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show, Boston, May 8th, 2006

DNA-based Killer Automaton: the Innovative Nanomedicine
Shaoshan Liu and Jean-Luc Gaudiot,
Proceedings of 2006 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show (Nanotech 2006), Boston, Massachusetts, USA, May 7-11, 2006

Software Simulation of DNA-Based Killer Automaton: The Innovative Nanomedicine
Shaoshan Liu (With a commentary by Professor Jean-Luc Gaudiot)
The UCI Undergraduate Research Journal, in press, 2006



[1] L.  Adleman, “Molecular computation of solutions to combinatorial problems” Science 266, page 1021, 1994.

[2] Y.  Benenson, B. Gil, U. Ben-Dor, R. Adar, E. Shapiro,   “An Autonomous Molecular Computer for Logical Control of Gene Expression”.  Nature 429, pages 423, 2004


Copyright © 2006 PASCAL — All Rights Reserved