Editors' ChoiceCell Biology

Intracellular Therapy Tool

Sci. Signal.  06 Sep 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 189, pp. ec246
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.4189ec246

One goal of synthetic biology is to integrate a genetic circuit into mammalian cells that can detect a diseased state and trigger a therapeutic appropriate response. Xie et al. have engineered a regulatory circuit that specifically triggers apoptosis if it detects a microRNA profile characteristic of HeLa cancer cells. Programmed biological actuation, like this example, in response to complex intracellular conditions could be valuable in applications such as drug screening, although to realize its full therapeutic potential the technology will have to overcome major challenges, not least in vivo DNA delivery.

Z. Xie, L. Wroblewska, L. Prochazka, R. Weiss, Y. Benenson, Multi-input RNAi-based logic circuit for identification of specific cancer cells. Science 333,1307–1311 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]