Curated by RSF Research Staff
Bioelectrical patterns shown to be instrumental in regeneration and complex morphogenesis
Learning the rules of large-scale pattern regulation will enable the ability to specify biological pattern and control its remodeling. Current technology and conceptual schemes target the level of the biological "machine code" – they are all about proteins, genes, and cells. The observables and operational parameters at this level do not refer to large-scale shape and do not facilitate its manipulation. Thus, the field faces complexity barriers with respect to rational control of morphology (“what genes must be regulated, in what ways, to change the shape of the hand, or create a new eye?”).
While systems biology seeks to understand emergence of complex form from molecular mechanisms, there is a major disconnect between the plethora of highresolution data and the ability to control patterning outcomes. A complementary topdown understanding of the information-processing and computation carried out by cells during development and regeneration is largely missing. We will address this profound gap by building new tools to exploit endogenous bioelectric pathways that implement high-level pattern homeostasis and control loops. This will greatly potentiate the impact of the existing and future results of existing bottom-up reductionist approaches, and result in highly impactful new capabilities in regenerative medicine and other fields. -- Tufts University Allen Discovery Center