Scientists from the Imperial College in London created the first every biological amplifier using the same engineering principles as conventional amplifiers. These “bio-amplifiers” were developed by re-coding DNA and harmless E. coli bacteria.
The scientists re-engineered genes that have naturally occurring amplifying proteins, cloned them, and then implanted them into the harmless gut E. coli. They also were able to make the amplifier tunable to allow the input signal amplitude to be controlled and can match the input-output strengths of genes. The scientists tested the amplifier’s ability to detect the toxin arsenic, and found they had developed a sensor that increased the detection limit and sensitivity. The device is modular and can be modified for use in other genetic networks to detect harmful toxins or diseases before they cause damage.