Science news: New algorithm may make regrowing limbs and organs possible

(Public Domain Pictures/Виталий Смолыгин)Human cells under a microscope

Mogrify, a new computer code model developed by an international team of researchers, could help scientists unravel more details on how to reprogram cells and fill gaps in the human body. This algorithm has the potential to make the process of creating pluripotent stem cells quicker than ever before.

Pluripotent stem cells, also referred to as 'true stem cells,' could become any type of specialized cell in the body, including muscle, blood, heart and nerve cells. Theoretically, these cells enable doctors to re-order human organs, regrow limbs and even patch up lost heart muscles.

The first ever successful cell reprogramming ever done was in 2007 by Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka, who earned a Nobel Prize for it. However, his work involved a number of complicated trial-and-errors, and his process can take a lot of work to reproduce. This is where the Mogrify comes in: it aims to make the process faster and easier.

"Mogrify acts like a 'world atlas' for the cell and allows us to map out new territories in cell conversions in humans," said team member Owen Rackham from the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore.

Rackham further detailed that one of their first clinical applications is geared towards reprogramming 'defective cells' from patients into 'functioning' healthy cells.

"These then can be re-implanted into patients, and should, in practice, effectively enable new regenerative medicine techniques," he said.

In the two novel cell conversion laboratory tests using human cells, Mogrify was able to predict the correct calculation in both attempts.

"Mogrify is a game-changing method that leverages big-data and systems-biology; this will inspire new translational applications," said Associate Professor Enrico Petretto, co-author of the study.

The findings have been published in the journal Nature Genetics on Jan. 18, 2016, and the code has been made available for other researchers and scientists to further examine.

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