Wet computers—devices made of lipid-covered cells that handle chemical reactions similarly to neurons—are the key to machines with the processing power of the human brain. But for now, they may deliver drugs in a better way:
The type of wet information technology we are working towards will not find its near-term application in running business software, but it will open up application domains where current IT does not offer any solutions - controlling molecular robots, fine-grained control of chemical assembly, and intelligent drugs that process the chemical signals of the human body and act according to the local biochemical state of the cell.
That's what University of Southampton's Klaus-Peter Zauner says, pointing out that the molecular computer they are working on is a "a very crude abstraction of what neurons do." When the lipid-covered cells contact each other, a passage opens between them so chemical reactions can pass from one to the next. Inside the cells, a reaction—called the Belousov-Zhabotinsky or B-Z—happens, triggered by other cells. This reaction can pass from one cell to the next, or can be contained within the cell, allowing for cell networking, which is key to form these wet processors.
Did you get any of that? Good. I just like the idea of my processors getting wet. [BBC]