Scientists have recreated life with the world’s first computer model of a complete living organism.
Mycoplasma genitalium might be the world’s smallest free-living bacterium, but modelling every single molecular interaction has been a massive task.
Researchers playing God at Stanford University used data from over 900 scientific papers to create the computer model of the parasitic bacterium, opening the door for computer aided design in bioengineering and medicine.
The final virtual cell model made use of more than 1,900 experimentally determined parameters, with computational models making sense of “enormous” amounts of data, according to the scientists.
This can kick start computer aided design using the model developed can now begin, and could even mean the “wholesale creation of new microorganisms”.
Bacteria or yeast could be used to mass produce pharmaceuticals, for example, or personalised medicine.
The created bacterium is only 525 genes large, compared to E.Coli which is a tad more complicated at 4,288, but it seems the researchers will begin looking to model larger organisms too in the future.
That is not to say that we are in the realms of 80s sci-fi flick Weird Science just yet. The scientists say that even medicinal applications are a long way off, and it is going to take an effort on the level of the Human Genome Project to get close to a human model.