Disease to Ease: Allen Institute develops 3D cell model to aid disease research

A Seattle-based research organization, the Allen Institute for Cell Science, has developed an Integrated Cell program that shows the various organelles within cells, specifically stem cells—even if they haven’t been mapped yet.

In a summary from the institutes’ Integrated Cell website, “the Allen Integrated Cell unites two technologies to improve our understanding of how human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) vary in both shape and organization. One is a deterministic model, which shows the organization of organelles in particular individual cells, and the other model is probabilistic – showing likely shapes and locations for organelles in any cell – even for cells we have not studied.” To put the probabilistic model into visual perspective, here’s a diagram that outlines the variation model:

”This is a new way to see inside living human cells. It’s like seeing the whole cell for the first time. In the future, this will impact drug discovery, disease research and how we frame basic studies involving human cells,” said Rick Horwitz, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Allen Institute.

The new modelling method will also help to reduce fluorescence toxicity in cells when they are being studied. “Fluorescence microscopy is expensive and toxic to cells; increasingly so when you tag multiple structures,” said Molly Maleckar, Ph.D., Director of Modeling. “Our approach allows scientists to view cells and conduct experiments at the reduced cost of brightfield microscopy, with the structure-identifying power of fluorescence microscopy – and without its toxic effects. It’s really the best of both worlds.”

The full press release can be found here.

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