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One phrase that strikes a rich chord in modern science, especially in chaotic systems, is “extreme sensitivity to initial conditions”. With a computer model of protein interactions, a research team at UCSD found that the same few proteins could produce radically alternate outputs from only minor differences in input. The model enabled the team to trace the communications within the cell through inference on the input/output duo, with a fairly complete understanding of the parameters a cell might respond to.

The prevailing opinion prior to this study was that computational models would be hard-pressed to predict cellular function based on outside signals, which is exactly what these new findings have accomplished. The image on their news release says it all:

Obvious implications for this uncovering of “hidden conversations in the cell’s wiring” lie with a cell-sourced problems, such as treatments of cancer which start by increasing immune functions. With a delicate drug tool, it is possible to “interfere with one of the pathological functions of the proteins, but leave the healthy functions intact.”

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