The potential for cells to find their way into the body plan was dramatically illustrated by a recent report that when some sea sludge is highly infected with the parasite, Their heads are separated from the body Through self-stimulating rupture and then within a few weeks a completely new body is removed again. It’s tempting to just look at it as the ultimate event of reincarnation, but that view raises some deep questions.
“First, where does the information about the anatomy it is trying to revive come from?” Levin asked. It’s easy to say “genome”, but we now know from our genobots that there is extreme plasticity and that cells are actually willing and able to create very different bodies. “
The second question, he says, is when does rebirth stop. “How do cells know when the ‘correct’ final size has been created and can they stop regenerating and growing?” He asked. The answer is important for understanding the abnormalities of cancer cells, he thinks.
Levine’s group is now studying whether adult human cells (which are lacking in the versatility of embryonic cells) exhibit a similar ability to assemble into “bots” when given the opportunity. The researchers said they gave them advice in the initial investigation.
Creatures, living machines, or both?
In their study, Levine and his colleagues discussed the possibility of genebots as “living machines” that could be used as microscopic probes or placed in wetlands to perform combined activities such as cleaning a waterlogged environment. Adami, however, is still convinced that the Tufts team understands enough to start doing it. “They didn’t show that you can design these things, you can program them, they’re doing something that’s not ‘normal’ after releasing mechanical barriers,” he said.
Levine is unpublished, but he thinks the divisions of xenobots for basic science could ultimately go much further than their biomedical or bioengineering applications, in a participatory system that exhibits a raised design that is not specifically encoded in its parts.
“I think it’s bigger than biology,” Levine said. “We need a science where bigger goals come into play. We will be surrounded by the Internet of Things, waterlogged robotics and even corporations and agencies. We don’t know where their goals come from, we’re not good at predicting them, and we’re not good at programming them. “
Solé that shares broad vision. “A particularly significant mark is the extent to which this organization reveals the productive potential of self-organization,” he said. And different functions or solutions can be achieved by combining different pieces. ” Maybe an animal, not even a human, a stone, or rather, an entity written in DNA, cells is just a possible consequence of the decision of the cell.
Although xenobots are “creatures”, but? Of course, Levine says – if we take the correct meaning of the word. The aggregation of cells so that clear boundaries and well-defined, collective, goal-oriented activity can be considered as a “self”. When the xenobots face each other and temporarily cling, they do not merge; They maintain and respect their selfishness. “They have natural boundaries that set them apart from the rest of the world and allow them to behave in a consistent manner,” Levine said. “This is the core of what it means to be an organism.”
“They’re creatures,” Jablonka agreed. It’s true that xenobots probably can’t reproduce – however, mules can’t either. Furthermore, “a xenobot can be induced to fragment and form two smaller sizes,” he said, “and perhaps some cells will split and separate into dynamic and nonmotile”. Can. In any case, who knows what they might be?
Original story Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, An editorial stand-alone publication Simons Foundation The aim is to increase the people’s understanding of science by covering the research developments and trends in mathematics and physical and life sciences.
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