Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Computational biology: Cells reprogrammed on the computer

Date:
July 31, 2013
Source:
University of Luxembourg
Summary:
Scientists have developed a model that makes predictions from which differentiated cells -- for instance skin cells -- can be very efficiently changed into completely different cell types -- such as nerve cells, for example. This can be done entirely without stem cells. These computer-based instructions for reprogramming cells are of huge significance for regenerative medicine.

Scientists at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg have developed a model that makes predictions from which differentiated cells - for instance skin cells - can be very efficiently changed into completely different cell types - such as nerve cells, for example. This can be done entirely without stem cells. These computer-based instructions for reprogramming cells are of huge significance for regenerative medicine.

Related Articles


The LCSB researchers present their results in the scientific journal Stem Cells. This is the first paper based solely on theoretical, yet practically proven, results of computational biology to be published in this journal.

All cells of an organism originate from embryonic stem cells, which divide and increasingly differentiate as they do so. The ensuing tissue cells remain in a stable state; a skin cell does not spontaneously change into a nerve cell or heart muscle cell. "Yet the medical profession is greatly interested in such changes, nonetheless. They could yield new options for regenerative medicine," says Professor Antonio del Sol, head of the Computational Biology group at LCSB. The applications could be of enormous benefit: When nerve tissue becomes diseased, for example, then doctors could take healthy cells from the patient's own skin. They could then reprogram these to develop into nerve cells. These healthy nerve cells would then be implanted into the diseased tissue or even replace it entirely. This would treat, and ideally heal, diseases such as Parkinson's disease.

The techniques for cell programming are still in their infancy. Stem cell researchers Shinya Yamanaka and John Burdon received the Nobel Prize for converting differentiated body cells back into stem cells only last year. The first successful direct conversion of skin cells to nerve cells in the lab was in 2010. Biologists add refined cocktails of molecules, i.e. growth factors, to the cell cultures in a certain order. This allows them to control the genetic activity in the conversion process. However, this method so far has been largely guided by - educated - trial and error.

Variable jumping between different cell lines is possible

Now, the LCSB researchers have replaced trial and error with computer calculations, as computer scientist and PhD student at LCSB Isaac Crespo explains: "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."

"Our predictions have proved very accurate in the lab," says Professor del Sol: "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." Prof. del Sol's and Crespo's model thus allows highly variable jumping between very different cell types without taking a detour via stem cells.

The biologists and medical scientists still have their lab work cut out for them: They have to identify all the growth factors that initiate the respective genetic activities in the correct, predicted order.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Luxembourg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Isaac Crespo, Antonio del Sol. A General Strategy for Cellular Reprogramming: The Importance of Transcription Factor Cross-Repression. STEM CELLS, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/stem.1473

Cite This Page:

University of Luxembourg. "Computational biology: Cells reprogrammed on the computer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130731105558.htm>.
University of Luxembourg. (2013, July 31). Computational biology: Cells reprogrammed on the computer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130731105558.htm
University of Luxembourg. "Computational biology: Cells reprogrammed on the computer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130731105558.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins