Shaoshan Liu

Computer Engineering

Prior to beginning his research, Shaoshan Liu had developed a bond with Professor Gaudiot in many discussions developing research ideas. When Shaoshan began formulating his proposal for DNA computing, he discussed this with Professor Gaudiot who recognized both the value of the research and Shaoshan’s unique approach, and invited him to join the research in his lab. Shaoshan’s research is truly multidisciplinary—combining computer science, biology, medicine and chemistry—and it is this combination that is truly exciting. Shaoshan plans to continue with multidisciplinary research, by first pursuing a Masters degree in EECS, followed by a Ph.D. in Engineering. triangle.gif (504 bytes)




The DNA-based Killer Automaton (DKA) is an innovative nanomedicine for cancer treatment. Equipped with an internal DNA computing algorithm, DKA detects cancer by checking oncogenic mRNA sequences in cells. If these cancer markings are detected, DKA releases cytotoxic materials to destroy the cancer cell. In addition, due to the bystander effect, the cytotoxic materials are able to propagate only to the cells that express cancerous behavior, thus destroying the malignancy with minimal side effects. To predict the efficacy of DKA in cancer treatments, a software model has been created to simulate the DKA mechanisms in an artificial multi-cell environment. The results obtained from the simulations show that the efficacy of DKA is linearly dependent on both the amount of DKA injected into the cancer cell group and the density of homologous gap junction intercellular communication (GJIC) channels. Also, the results verify that DKA does not have to enter all cancer cells to destroy malignancies. Depending on the density of homologous GJIC channels, DKA can enter a certain percentage of cancer cells, and propagate to all other cancer cells through the bystander effect. The result is complete tumor regression. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                

Jean-Luc Gaudiot

Henry Samueli 
School of Engineering

DNA is not only the fundamental information carrier of life, it can be used to perform logic functions as well. In 2004, Ehud Shapiro constructed a DNA computer model capable of diagnosing cancerous activity within a cell. Shaoshan’s project extends Shapiro’s model to the point where the DNA computer can not only diagnose cancerous activity in cells but also (at least theoretically) eliminate the cancer cells and leave healthy cells untouched. Shaoshan’s fascinating work required creativity, scientific curiosity, motivation, diligence, and the integration of knowledge at the crossroads between computer science, nanotechnology, and cancer biology. It sets a perfect example of where interdisciplinary research can lead. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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