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Jun 01, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 11)

Virtual Cell

  • Nice tutorials, software offers a number of ways to construct models
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Even though science is very interdisciplinary by nature, let’s face it—we all have our niche, and we generally stick to what we know. Therefore, it is a pleasure to discover an online tool that brings mathematicians and theoretical biologists together with cell biologists. Using a web-based Java interface, the Virtual Cell (VCell) software allows one to construct complex models of cells in order to simulate various aspects of cell biology. You can construct the model by adding biological features and descriptions or by mathematical formulas. In both cases, the software automatically generates one set of parameters (math or biological description) from the other. (Don’t worry, if this sounds intimidating, there is a wonderful “quick start guide,” which describes how to work with the different models and simulations, as well as a number of other tutorials.)

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*The opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as reflecting the viewpoints of the publisher, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., the publishing house, or employees and affiliates thereof.

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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

Do you agree that ecstasy should be studied for its potential therapeutic benefits?

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