Computer Model Describes the 'Architecture of Life'

Scientifically, when we talk about complex living systems, it is assumed that genes and chemicals plays a key role in a human body. These genes and chemical have an immense role to play in the formation and control of living systems.

It has been found that the spatial arrangement of the components that makes up these systems and the physical forces that are experienced by them play an equally major role. Around 35 years ago, Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., Founding Director of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, started scrutinizing "architecture of life" and uncovered that an architectural principle known as "tensegrity" (tensional integrity) is used by the nature so as to stabilize the shape of living cells and find out that how they respond to mechanical forces.

Tensegrity refers to a characteristic property of a stable three-dimensional structure which contains elements that are in the state of tension or compression. The balance among these interacting forces make it possible for these structures to stabilize. It is this internal tension that permits the entire structure to bear all kinds of stresses, deform and then restore to its original shape when stress is removed.

Ingber and Wyss Staff Scientist Charles Reilly put to use a newly developed multi-scale modeling method and showed that tensegrity principles are used across different levels of size and structural complexity within living cells. The team of researchers brought up a new computational modeling approach that treats each and every model as a series of mathematical operations. These mathematical operations change according to different inputs. This method is referred to as "procedural modeling". It applies the data from different size scales and formats to be integrated into one multi-scale model.

The researchers estimate that this research will be able to produce models for various applications right from mechanobiology to cellular signal transduction to decoding the underpinnings of life itself.


By: Anuja Arora



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