Virtual (Molecular) Biology Experiments

Here at IISc, I have realised that the molecular biology experiments (with E. coli) take a lot of time to occur. You prepare a strain, incubate it, run gels, etc. All of these things take time, and I am talking of a lot of time.

How nice would it be to have a software package to do all this in simulations and get the results instantaneously. It will allow to define the experiments in a script. Just run the script and lo! you have results in a flash. The scripts could be something like below:

#include STRAIN_1
#include STRAIN_2
#include Lamda_Phage

void main()
{

set a=TAKE(STRAIN_1, 5ml);
set b=TAKE(STRAIN_2, 5ml);
set c=TAKE(Lamda_Phage, 5ml)

incubate(a, 1litre, 12 hours);
incubate(b, 1litre, 2 hours);

set d=MIX(a,c);
set e=MIX(b,c);

for(i=1;i<10

Wouldn’t it be nice that you just design the experiments and they happen automatically? The software package (which I would call Biomation (Biology Automation)) would model accurate micro level and macro level behavior of many bacterial cells, eukaryotic cells and viruses. Indeed, the organisms can just be modules. The biomation should be complex enough to model evolution, molecular biology, crude physics, chemistry, etc.

We may even do experiments for observing taking up of aerobic bacteria by pre-eukaryote and then arise of mitochondria, performing recombinant DNA experiments, observing the cell communication, etc. In a nutshell, using a modular approach the biomation should facilitate every experiment imaginable.

The biomation could even kick-start the geek culture in biology as more people could write modules and share them online. They will share experiments using scripts. It will also facilitate widespread education in molecular biology as the kids and the places which cannot afford a full-blown lab will now can perform experiments on their computers.

It would be wonderful if we could reduce the biology experiments to merely a thought-process and thereby eliminating the time-consuming and error-prone physical experiments.

I wish I had time enough to write the biomation. But I seriously believe that the biomation should be a reality soon. And this is because it has potential to change science forever.

2 comments

  1. I agree, I think this will definitely become a reality, eventually, but it will still be quite a while before we understand cell biology (even of E.coli) enough to model it accurately. Or at least I hope this is the case otherwise molecular biology techniques will become obsolete and I will be out of a job!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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