Curing disease with cellular circuits

Curing disease with cellular circuits

From where Hana El-Samad sits, much of human disease looks like a problem of malfunctioning feedback loops. Take traumatic brain injury. The brain needs inflammation to heal, but runaway inflammation causes cognitive impairment. How can a doctor know when to start and stop anti-inflammatory medication? El-Samad and her collaborators have a solution: replace traditional drug delivery with programmable molecular toolkits that deliver a payload inside the diseased organ only when their built-in sensors tell them it’s needed. They’ve inserted prototype toolkits into yeast; mammalian immune system cells are next. These toolkits contain components collected from different cells and organisms. Increasingly and for the first time, they also include de novo-designed proteins that are computationally created, then synthesized and used as circuit building blocks. El-Samad is working to bring about a revolution in which scratch-built, programmable biological circuits harness the machinery of the cells in a safe and controllable way to correct dysfunction or destroy errant cells.

Social media hashtag: #CellCircuits

Sunday, October 27th, 10:00 am to 11:00 am
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Alumni Ballroom ABC, Nittany Lion Inn
Hana El-Samad
  Kuo Family Endowed Professor and vice chair in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco