Computer programming and gene synthesis appear to share little in common. But according to University of Cincinnati professor Andrew Steckl, an Ohio Eminent Scholar, leaps forward in technology in the former make him optimistic that wide scale gene manufacture is achievable.

Steckl and his student, Joseph Riolo, used the history of microchip development and large scale computer software platforms as a predictive model to understand another complex system, synthetic biology. Steckl said the project was inspired by comments by another student in his group, Eliot Gomez.

“No analogy is perfect. DNA doesn’t meet certain definitions of digital code,” Riolo said, “but there are a lot of ways the genome and software code are comparable.”

According to the UC study, synthetic biology has the potential to be “the next epochal technological human advancement following microelectronics and the internet.” Its applications are boundless, from creating new biofuels to developing new medical treatments.

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