First Virtual Organism Model Created

The world’s first virtual model of a living organism has been created at Stanford University.

Working with data from over nine hundred papers studying the microbe, the mycoplasma genitalium, a sexually transmitted germ, has been completely mapped out as a computer model, opening the door to new possibilities for biological research and development.

The model’s creators expect that this will be the first step towards creating organisms via computer, testing ideas and theories in a virtual model and then comparing them to living things. The model is accurate down to its genetic structure, though the microbe does possess only two hundred twenty five genes.

“This achievement demonstrates a transforming approach to answering questions about fundamental biological processes,” said James Anderson, director of the National Institutes of Health Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives. “Comprehensive computer models of entire cells have the potential to advance our understanding of cellular function and, ultimately, to inform new approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of disease.”