Scientists create the largest simulation of an entire gene of DNA. In order to complete this task, these researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the New Mexico Consortium (NMC) modeled one billion atoms. This amazing feat will help scientists better understand and develop cures for cancer and other diseases.
Karissa Sanbonmatsu, a LANL researcher and NMC affiliate, states “It is important to understand DNA at this level of detail in order to understand how genes turn on and off.”
The article states, “DNA is the blueprint for all living things and holds the genes that encode the structures and activity in the human body. There is enough DNA in the human body to wrap around the earth 2.5 million times, which means it is compacted in a very precise and organized way.
The long, string-like DNA molecule is wound up in a network of tiny, molecular spools. The ways that these spools wind and unwind turn genes on and off. Research into this spool network is known as epigenetics, a new, growing field of science that studies how bodies develop inside the womb and how diseases form.
When DNA is more compacted, genes are turned off and when the DNA expands, genes are turned on. Researchers do not yet understand how or why this happens.
While atomistic model is key to solving the mystery, simulating DNA at this level is no easy task and requires massive computing power.”
This study was published in the Journal of Computational Chemistry on April 17, 2019. This research was a partnership between researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, the New Mexico Consortium, the RIKEN Center for Computational Science in Japan, and New York University.
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