by Brian Thomas, M.S.

Scientists made a virtual microbe, complete with dozens of interconnected cell functions. But it wasn’t easy. Their creation could be used in two important areas of research.

The Stanford-led team of bioengineers watched 128 of their digital cells, referred to as being in silico, grow in cyberspace.1 The in silico cells behaved similarly to the real live Mycoplasma bacteria after which they were modeled. Biomedical research may one day use digital cells to estimate how real cells respond to different drugs or conditions.

Publishing in the journal Cell, the study authors wrote, “Our model is based on a synthesis of over 900 publications and includes more than 1900 experimentally observed parameters.”1  They first used differing algorithms to represent each of 28 diverse cellular processes, like DNA synthesis and repair, RNA processing, and protein modification and transport.

How could they then unify so many different features? “The current effort involved so many different cellular functions and mathematical representations that a more general approach was needed.”1….

 

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