Navigation Links
Biomedical research revealing secrets of cell behavior

TEMPE, Ariz -- Knowing virtually everything about how the body's cells make transitions from one state to another for instance, precisely how particular cells develop into multi-cellular organisms would be a major jump forward in understanding the basics of what drives biological processes.

Such a leap could open doors to far-reaching advances in medical science, bioengineering and related areas.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers at Arizona State University, with a partner at Imperial College London, report on taking at least a step toward better comprehension of the fundamentals of "cell fate determination" in the prominent research journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Cell fate determination relates to the mechanisms by which a cell "decides" in what direction it will go in moving through transitional phases into a final state.

Using mathematical modeling and synthetic biology techniques the team is manufacturing artificial gene networks (a collection of DNA segments in a cell that interact with each other) and introducing them into cells in the laboratory.

From there, the researchers are able to closely observe through microscopic imaging what is happening with particular cells at their "tipping point," a stage of rest right before they transition into other states.

By learning what takes place at that point, "We can get closer to a fundamental insight about all biology," says biomedical engineer and synthetic biologist Xiao Wang.

Once the mechanisms determining the fate of cells are better understood, Wang says, "We could make gene networks or devices that do what we want them to do," such as create cells that produce medicinal drugs or that kill diseased cells, or create cells that act as sensors to detect environmental hazards.

Wang is an assistant professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, one of ASU's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is the senior author of the PNAS paper.

Wang's fellow authors are: biomedical engineering research scientists Min Wu and Xiaohui Li, who work in Wang's lab; electrical engineering graduate student Ri-Qi Su; Ying-Cheng Lai, a professor in ASU's School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering; and synthetic biologist Tom Ellis from Imperial College London.

Their article, "Engineering of regulated stochastic cell fate determination," is available online at

The research team is studying the molecular-level interactions within the DNA sequences of cells, through which the products of one gene affect those of other genes. This helps to trace the lineages of cell development and reveal what drives them in the direction of what kinds of cells they will be in their final states.

Within deeper knowledge of the workings of such processes lays the key to more effectively engineering cells and gene networks.

Wang's team is focused on investigating the intricate properties of gene networks with the goal of learning new ways of regulating the mechanisms behind cell fate determination.

"Our research could be built upon to look at more complicated gene networks and more complex cellular behavior," paving the way for expanding the capabilities of bioengineering to protect and maintain human health, Wang says.


Contact: Joe Kullman
Arizona State University

Related biology news :

1. New FASEB analysis documents impact of budget cuts on biomedical research
2. Core for Life, a new European alliance in biomedical research
3. WPI Biomedical Technology in final 4 of international business plan contest
4. Breakthrough study opens door to broader biomedical applications for Raman spectroscopy
5. Vilcek Prize for Biomedical Science split between 2 giants of immunology
6. 12th annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences awarded
7. Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences awarded to Rosbash, Hall and Young
8. Improving the development of new cancer models using an advanced biomedical imaging method
9. Lyncean Technologies Inc. sells Compact Light Source to Munich biomedical-imaging research center
10. FASEB urges biomedical research community to speak out against sequestration
11. US investment in biomedical and health research on downward trend
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/20/2016)... -- Securus Technologies, a leading provider of civil ... investigation, corrections and monitoring announced that after exhaustive ... the final acceptance by all three (3) Department ... (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus will have contracts for ... October, 2016. MAS distinguishes between legitimate wireless device ...
(Date:6/15/2016)... York , June 15, 2016 ... new market report titled "Gesture Recognition Market by Application ... Forecast, 2016 - 2024". According to the report, the  ... 11.60 billion in 2015 and is estimated to ... USD 48.56 billion by 2024.  Increasing ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... TURKU, Finland , June 9, 2016 ... French National Police deploy Teleste,s video security solution to ensure ... France during the major tournament ... and data communications systems and services, announced today that its ... Police Prefecture to back up public safety across ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has signed ... to serve as their official health care provider. ... will provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, and ... volunteers, athletes and families. "We are ... and to bring Houston Methodist quality services and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June, 23, 2016  The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a ... ways to harness living systems and biotechnology, announced its ... in New York City . ... students, showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during ... , MoMA,s senior curator of architecture and design, and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, today ... Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I am ... and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific integrator, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company dedicated ... the medical community, has closed its Series A funding ... . "We have received a commitment from ... we need to meet our current goals," stated ... the runway to complete validation on the current projects ...
Breaking Biology Technology: