Programming cells to do amazing stuff: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Asimov

January 22, 2018 |

Asimov has spun out of MIT aimed at detecting and responding to  customer needs in applying biocircuit design to real-world opportunities.

“It is literally a programming language for bacteria,” says Christopher Voigt, an MIT professor of biological engineering. “You use a text-based language, just like you’re programming a computer. Then you take that text and you compile it and it turns it into a DNA sequence that you put into the cell, and the circuit runs inside the cell.”

Asimov just picked up a $4.7 million seed round investment from Marc Andreessen’s’ venture firm. You might remember that Marc was a hot-shot spin-out CEO himself a generation ago, developing something he called a web browser, which, um, did pretty well.

Inspired by the trajectory of electronic design automation — they’re making the engineering of biology follow the same workflow of engineering a computer chip. With Asimov, a biological circuit design starts in the very same way that a computer chip design would start: by programming it in Verilog, the language used to design electronic circuits for decades.

The Digest assembled this illuminating overview on the progress and promise of the technology, based primarily on Asimov material.

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Category: 8-Slide Guide

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