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Scientists simulated every single atom of a single gene



Close-Up

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists say they built a simulation that models the behavior of each atom in a single human gene. That means a billion moving parts at once – a feat that's so complex that scientists say they'll have to wait for a new generation of supercomputers if they want to model an entire chromosome or, better yet, the human genome.

All the same, the model could give scientists new insights into the behavior of DNA molecules, as shown in their recent week's study in the Journal of Computational Chemistry – . The simulation is not intended only for arithmetic bragging rights. But it is also a tool that could lead to a new medicine.

Atomic Medicine

By understanding the behavior of each individual DNA atom, scientists were able to elucidate new medical discoveries.

We want to know exactly how genes are switched on and off, "said biologist Karissa Sanbonmatsu from Los Alamos in a press release. "Knowing how this happens could reveal the secrets of how many diseases are occurring."

Getting Started

Right now the simulation is incredibly slow. According to the article, he can model only one nanosecond molecular activity per day.

This is far below the speed of biomedical simulations, which is practically designed, suggesting that scientists are extending their computing power to the absolute limit of modeling all billions of atoms simultaneously.

"We were now able to model a whole gene with the help of the Trinity supercomputer in Los Alamos," said physicist Anna Lappala in the press release. "In the future, we can use exascale supercomputers that give us the ability to model the complete genome."

READ MORE: Scientists create first biomolecular simulation of one billion atoms [LosAlamosNewsroom Phys.org ]

More about supercomputers: America now has the fastest supercomputer in the world. Why is that important?


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