The Interior Design of Our Cells: Database of 200,000 Cell Images Yields New Mathematical Framework to Understand Our Cellular Building Blocks; Scientists Have Developed New Way to See How Cells Organize Themselves

Working with hundreds of thousands of high-resolution images, a team at the Allen Institute for Cell Science, a division of the Allen Institute, put numbers on the internal organization of human cells--a biological concept that has to date proven exceptionally difficult to quantify. Through that work, the scientists also captured details about the rich variation in cell shape even among genetically identical cells grown under identical conditions. The team described their work in a paper published in Nature on January 4, 2023. The open-access article is titled “Integrated Intracellular Organization and Its Variations in Human iPS Cells.” “The way cells are organized tells us something about their behavior and identity,” said Susanne Rafelski, Ph.D., Deputy Director of the Allen Institute for Cell Science, who led the study along with Senior Scientist Matheus Viana, Ph.D. “What’s been missing from the field, as we all try to understand how cells change in health and disease, is a rigorous way to deal with this kind of organization. We haven’t yet tapped into that information.” This study provides a roadmap for biologists to understand organization of different kinds of cells in a measurable, quantitative way, Dr. Rafelski said. It also reveals some key organizational principles of the cells the Allen Institute team studies, which are known as human induced pluripotent stem cells.
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