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Comments by Gloria Alvarez...Scoper?

   Is it a living thing, or is it an inaminate machine?  The new "Bionic Chip" that's been developed by researchers at UC Berkley is indeed a living cell.  But it's also a microchip. 
How can that be, and how is it going to make your life better?
     Scientists have known for years that cells can pass an electrical current.  Now they've developed a way to control the current and use the cell as an integral part of new microdevices, without destroying the cell or its neighbors.
     It took three years of work using silicon microfabrication technology.  It's transparent, and tiny, only about 20 microns or about a hundreth of an inch across.  Using a microscope the researchers make the miniscule miracle perform.
     "We've brought engineering essentially into the field of biology," said Boris Rubinski a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkley.  Using this exciting new technique doctors in the near future will be able to introduce DNA, administer medicines, extract proteins and more, all without disturbing the other cells that are nearby.
     Envision elaborate bionic circuitry to control body implants that will treat everything from gentic diseases to brain conditions.  The hope is eventually, researchers will be able to develop specialized bionic chips for the various tissue types in the body, as diverse as muscle and bone.  
     UC Berkley funded the research and has applied for a patent on the technology.  It's their hope to develop it commercially.  If they're successful, this is just the beginning of an exciting new medical/technological discipline.

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