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Cellular Conversations Can Now be eavesdropped by Researchers

At the University of California, Irvine, a team of mathematicians and biologists have developed an exciting tool.  The tool helps decipher the language cells used to communicate among people. Nature Communications, a paper published today, CellChat, a platform for decoding communication, has been introduced. CellChat is a computational platform that allows decoding molecules transmitting information and commands.

Qing Nie, a co-senior author and UCI Chancellor’s Professor of Mathematics and Developmental Cell Biology, said, « To properly understand why cells do certain things, and to predict their future actions.” “We need to be able to listen to what they are saying to one another; mathematical and machine learning tools enable the translation of such messages, » he added.

Researchers feed in a single-cell gene expression so that CellChat translates molecular messages between cells. This is how researchers get a detailed report on the signaling communication features of an organ or tissue.

Another co-senior author, Maksim Plikus, claims that the tool shows different signals sent and received for every distinct group of cells. As a cellular language interpreter, CellChat will provide scientists valuable insights and the entire organ’s function.

For developing CellChat, UCI’s researchers heavily borrowed from the machine learning tools and social network theory. The theory assisted them in understanding a higher level of cellular language. Machine learning can break down the immense complexity of cellular communication patterns.

« In our paper, we showcase the power of CellChat using atopic dermatitis, a human skin condition, but the tool can be used on any tissue with the same success, » Plikus added.

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