Scientists from Stanford University and the Institut Craig Venter developed the first computer model of a micro-organism, a humble single-celled bacteria that lives in the human genital and respiratory tracts.
According to experts and scholars, this work is a giant step in the development of computer laboratories that can perform thousands of experiments much faster than is currently possible. This will allow scientists to unlock the secrets of diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
"You read every week in the newspaper about the opening of the cancer gene or gene of Alzheimer’s disease," - said Markus Covert Stanford, who led the study. "Then why do we still have not cured all these diseases? The answer, of course, is that the cancer - it’s not a problem of a single gene, here there are thousands of factors."
For doctors and biochemists, computer models will significantly speed up the early stages of the search for new chemical compounds. And for molecular biologists, quite neat models will allow a deeper understanding of the basic principles of cell activity.
Dr. Covert said: "What distinguishes our work from all others is the fact that we have included all the genes of all known gene function."
Model of the full life cycle of a pathogen called Mycoplasma genitalium, was presented Friday in the journal Cell.
All calculations are performed on a cluster of computers 128 that simulate the life cycle of cells on a molecular level, the interaction of 28 categories including molecules such as DNA, RNA, proteins and intermediate metabolic products called metabolites.
The scientists used data from more than 900 scientific publications, to confirm the accuracy of the computer model.
"At this point, the simulation of one cell division takes 10 hours and generates $ polgigabayta data," - says Dr. Covert.
Number of genes of the bacterium is 525, which is significantly less than other bacteria commonly used in laboratories, E. coli (4288 genes).
"The main question for all of us: what would happen if we simulate a larger organism, such as, E. coli, yeast, or even, in time, a human cell?" - Said Dr. Covert. He noted that the E. coli divided every 20-30 minutes and the number of molecular interactions well above that require large computational resources.
"I will have an answer in a few years" - he wrote.