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UW researchers have developed a programming language for chemical reactions. This rendering shows what a “chemical computer” may look like. Photo via Yan Liang, News.

Programming languages tell computers what to do, and now researchers from the University of Washington want to do the same for scientists working with chemical reactions.

In what could potentially pave the way for an advanced drug delivery system or disease detector, the UW researchers have written a programming language that can control the movement of DNA molecules.

The goal is to make it easier and more efficient for scientists who build complicated molecular networks, and to use the language to develop general-purpose tools.

“I think this is appealing because it allows you to solve more than one problem,” Georg Seelig told UW News. “If you want a computer to do something else, you just reprogram it. This project is very similar in that we can tell chemistry what to do.”

Seelig and six others had their findings published yesterday in Nature Nanotechnology.

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