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In First, Software Emulates Lifespan of Entire Organism

Scientists at Stanford University and the J. Craig Venter Institute have developed the first software simulation of an entire organism, a humble single-cell bacterium that lives in the human genital and respiratory tracts.

The scientists and other experts said the work was a giant step toward developing computerized laboratories that could carry out many thousands of experiments much faster than is possible now, helping scientists penetrate the mysteries of diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.

“You read in the paper just about every week, ‘Cancer gene discovered’ or ‘Alzheimer gene discovered,’ ” said the leader of the new research, Markus W. Covert, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford. “A lot of the public wonders, ‘Why haven’t we cured all these things?’ The answer, of course, is that cancer is not a one-gene problem; it’s a many-thousands-of-factors problem.”
 
 

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