A new discovery by Swiss researchers could put a mobile phone under your skin. By modifying how cells react to certain genes and enzymes, the researchers were able to make them communicate and exchange information. Kind of like if they were on the phone.
It works like this: cell #1 gets a little molecular implant, which makes it produce an enzyme. This enzyme is then sent to cell #2, which then starts producing its own enzyme that basically says “I got your message, dude”. When that gets to cell #1, they both “hang up” and stop producing enzymes.
Naturally, your cells already talk to each other, but being able to control the process is a big step. Such a thing has been done with simpler yeast cells, but the ability to do it with mammalian ones means that someday it might be possible to fix malfunctioning connections in diseased tissue by cold-calling them with man-made messages. These communication pairs are also modular, so they can be built out into bigger and bigger networks. It’s a promising technology, so long as those cells have good data plans. [PhysOrg via Geekosystem]