Cockroaches are being turned into mini computers to treat disease

9 April 2014

The kerrrazy world of science has now harnessed the ever expanding population of cockroaches – and turned them into nanobots with the computing power of a Commodore 64 or an Atari 800.



Nano sized entities - made of DNA, and capable of carrying out basic computing logic - have been injected into cockroaches by scientists at Bar Ilan University in Israel.

The DNA computers are called ‘origami’ robots because they work by folding and unfolding strands of DNA around the cockroaches body. They travel around the insect, and interact with its cells, and as the markers are florescent, you can actually watch it happen.

But here’s the most insane part – when the DNA strands unfurl, they can dispense drugs on contact with specific molecules – ie, a diseased cell.


Daniel Levner, a bioengineer at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University said: ‘DNA nanorobots could potentially carry out complex programs that could one day be used to diagnose or treat diseases with unprecedented sophistication.’

The DNA technology could help target cell-specific ailments, like cancer, with great accuracy. But before you decide to inject it into a human being, you first have to get past our body’s inbuilt immunity to foreign objects. However, the scientists say that trials on humans could be a reality in about five years.

Still, even if it doesn’t work, Commodore 64 cockroaches sound pretty exciting. Maybe you could play Chuckie Egg with them?

TOPICS:   Technology   Health

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