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Researchers develop first software simulation of an entire organism

Drawing on data from more than 900 scientific papers, scientists at Stanford have produced a complete computational model of the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium. Researchers say the work will yield new insights into basic cellular principles and vastly speed up the scientific process.

The model was published in Cell, and a recent Stanford Report article describes the significance of the work:

By encompassing the entirety of an organism in silico, 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."

Photo by Erik Jacobsen, Covert Lab

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