Neurons power the thinking and learning ability of all organisms, including the most intelligent mammals-humans. Neural cells communicate with each other biochemically to form circuits that can “learn” to perform computations. We harness the adaptive biocomputational ability of neurons to create a neural chip that can sense electrical signals and make decisions based on its training.
Aptamers are oligonucleotides, i.e., short strands of DNA or RNA. These have the property of binding small molecules (drugs, vitamins, etc.), macromolecules such as proteins, viruses, and even whole cells like bacteria. They have tremendous diagnostic and therapeutic potential due to their high specificity, affinity to target, and independence from immunogenicity. Aptamers can be used to detect a plethora of substances using fluorescence, optical and electrochemical methods.
We have combined the superior computational ability of a neural network and the sensitive, specific detection ability of aptamers to create NeuraSyn. This is a highly accurate, zero-time platform that can be used to detect bacteria Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, and fungus Penicillium sp.
Conventional computers, especially GPUs, have a massive carbon footprint, and heat generation, adding to global warming. The mining process of Si used to make electronic chips is highly polluting. E-waste is toxic. Neural chips have little carbon emission and are made with biological cells, making them sustainable and eco-friendly.
The neural chip minimizes loss of information (like cell-to-pixel loss) and amplifies the input signals resulting in accurate decision-making. It is Aptamers have high specificity and sensitivity toward a target (detection in nanomolar range). Independence of immunogenicity also gives it better accuracy compared to antibodies.
Neural chip is able to perform simultaneous/parallel computing. This gives NeuraSyn the ability to detect several microbes in a sample at once. Aptamers can be easily generated (via SELEX) against pathogens, making multiple microbe detection simple and cheap.
NeuraSyn can be expanded to detect a multitude of pathogens - bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc. The neural chip can also be trained to compute the risk of cancer and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases from biomarkers. Ability of the neural circuit to learn and adapt also promises its use in personalized medicine.