Computer Reprogrammed Stem Cells – Computational Biology

embryonic stem cells treatment for diseases

Embryonic stem cells as they are known since the beginning divide and increasingly differentiate. There is no way for a skin cell to spontaneously turn out into a heart muscle cell or nerve cell; the ensuing tissue cells remain in a stable state.}

There are various known embryonic stem cells applications, for a damage nerve tissue for example; patient’s own skin will be the subject for healthy cells extraction made which will be conducted by the doctor. These then will be developed into nerve cells through having them reprogrammed. Application for brain diseases such as Parkinson seem ideal.

Among the other stem cell research efforts are those done by researchers John Burdon and Shinya Yamanaka. Their study that shows ordinary adult skin cells could become pluripotent just like the embryonic ones won the Nobel Prize. There however are refined cocktail molecules (example: growth factors) added to the cell cultures in a certain order by the biologists. Thus, conversion process’ genetic activity can be controlled. But due to the fact that the cell programming technique is just a new one, this has been conducted in a trial and error basis.

There was a model developed by the computational experts at the University of Luxembourg. Such model is responsible of making prediction from which changing of differentiated cells (like skin cells) into a completely different cell types (such as nerve cells) can be effectively done.

Jumping between differed cell lines

The trial and error procedure however was replaced by computer calculations by the head of Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) Professor Antonio del Sol and PhD student Isaac Crespo. “Our theoretical model first queries databases where vast amounts of information on gene actions and their effects are stored and then identifies the genes that maintain the stability of differentiated cells. Working from the appropriate records, the model suggests which genes in the starting cells need to be switched on and off again, and when, in order to change them into a different cell type” explains Crespo.

And according to del Sol “Our predictions have proved very accurate in the lab. And it turns out it makes no difference at all how similar the cells are. The models work equally well for cell lines that have only just branched off from one another as for those that are already very far apart.”

Without considering a detour via stem cell, they claim that there is an allowed significant variable jumping between distinct cell types. There however is still a need for medical scientists and biologists to have all of the growth factor initiating the respective genetic activities identified in a way which is predicted and correct.

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