A team led by Stanford bioengineering Professor Markus Covert used data from more than 900 scientific papers to account for every molecular interaction that takes place in the life cycle of Mycoplasma genitalium – the world's smallest free-living bacterium.
By encompassing the entirety of an organism in silicon, the paper fulfills a longstanding goal for the field. Not only does the model allow researchers to address questions that aren't practical to examine otherwise, it represents a stepping-stone toward the use of computer-aided design in bioengineering and medicine.
"This achievement demonstrates a transforming approach to answering questions about fundamental biological processes," said James M. 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."
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