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Computational biology enables regenerative medicine advances

Copyright: wikimedia

An international team of researchers led by Professor Julian Gough from the University of Bristol (now at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge) have created an algorithm, Mogrify, to precisely predict the proteins required to reprogram any human cell type. Mogrify is being used by two spin-out companies founded by the researchers, Cell Mogrify and Chondrogenix, to develop new treatments for diseases such as osteoarthritis.

“The Mogrify approach is helping Chondrogenix to identify chondrocyte conversion protocols and to develop novel cell-based therapies for the treatment of osteoarthritis,” says Gough.

Mogrify predicts the key trigger proteins, or transcription factors, required to transform one cell type into another. Identifying the right transcription factors experimentally is time-consuming, expensive, and labour intensive.

The creation of Mogrify was underpinned by an International Partnering Award between Gough and Yoshihide Hayashizaki’s lab in RIKEN, Japan. The researchers spent five years validating Mogrify’s predictions, combining algorithms, bioinformatics and computation with experimental knowledge and unique cells and tissue datasets analysed at RIKEN.

Data breakout

200 Approximate number of different cell types in the human body
8.75M Number of people suffering from Osteoarthritis in the UK
£52K Value of the BBSRC International Partnering Award funding for Gough