Programing languages venture far away from the digital and find a new home in bacteria design. MIT biological engineers developed Cello, a programming language capable of creating new functions to E. coli. Unlike other languages such as python or java, when this text-based language is compiled, instead of executing a command the program turns into a DNA sequence that can be inserted into cells.
Of the 60 designs made by Christopher Voigt and his team, 45 of them worked correctly the first time they were run. Compared to the years it would normally take to design, test and build one successful circuit, Voigt estimates that it would only take around one week to design 60 of them using Cello. Voigt’s team plans to expand the language to include other strains of bacteria thus allowing users to write one program that can be compiled for different organisms.
This new language would bring in a new age of genetic engineering. A web-based interface requiring no extensive knowledge of genetics, Cello could allow a high school student to manufacture their own design for a science fair.