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. This is done without stem cells.
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.
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.”