Cellular therapy is a powerful strategy to produce patient-specific, personalized cells to treat many diseases, including heart disease and neurological disorders. But a major challenge for cell therapy applications is keeping cells alive and well in the lab.
That may soon change as researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore, and Monash University, Australia have devised an algorithm that can predict what molecules are needed to keep cells healthy in laboratory cultures. They developed a computational approach called EpiMogrify, that can predict the molecules needed to signal stem cells to change into specific tissue cells, which can help accelerate treatments that require growing patient cells in the lab.
Computational biology is rapidly becoming a key enabler in cell therapy, providing a way to short-circuit otherwise expensive and time-consuming discovery approaches with cleverly designed algorithms.”
Owen Rackham, Computational Biologist, Duke-NUS
Assistant Professor Owen Rackham is senior and corresponding author of the study, published today in the journal Cell Systems.
In the laboratory, cells are often grown and maintained in cell cultures, formed of a substance, called a medium, which contains nutrients and other molecules. It has been an ongoing challenge to identify the necessary molecules to maintain high-quality cells in culture, as well as finding molecules that can induce stem cells to convert to other cell types.
The research team developed a computer model called EpiMogrify that successfully identified molecules to add to cell culture media to maintain healthy nerve cells,