Researchers create first complete computer model of organism
Computer-aided design (CAD) technology has long been used to pursue advancements in the medical industry. For example, Design that Matters uses SolidWorks CAD software to create products for various social and medical needs around the world, including infant incubators made from car parts and other creative, affordable solutions.
But the utility of CAD for medicine does not solely lie in its practical applications. Researchers also use the technology in computational biology in an effort to discover truths and insight into people and animals on a very basic level.
Recently, scientists announced they had made a significant advancement in this field.
Mapping an organism
For the first time ever, scientists claim to have used computer-aided design to develop a computer model of an organism. If true, this would represent a major breakthrough in the field of computational biology, and potentially lead to a large number of applications.
Led by assistant professor of bioengineering Markus Covert, a team of Stanford researchers used data from more than 900 scientific papers and 1,900 experimentally observed parameters to model the smallest free-living bacterium on Earth, Mycoplasma genitalium.
"This achievement demonstrates a transforming approach to answering questions about fundamental biological processes," said James Anderson, director of the National Institutes of Health Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives. "Comprehensive computer models of entire cells have the potential to advance our understanding of cellular function and, ultimately, to inform new approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of disease."
A press release announcing the achievement noted that bio-CAD, an emerging field, has the potential to allow the creation of beneficial bacteria or yeast that can be used for pharmaceutical purposes. Additionally, the technology may someday be able to enable a greater degree of personalized medicine.