Bioelectrical engineering can help predict cell behavior

Humans use cells to regulate their body temperature, to breathe, to grow, and to perform several other day-to-day processes. But the cells involved in these processes are so complicated that researchers were clueless about the development of cells in different settings.

Bioelectrical engineering can help predict cell behavior
This is professor Orkun Soyer, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick. Image Credit: University of Warwick.

According to scientists from the University of Warwick, upcoming studies should look into the bioelectrical composition of the cells to find the answers.

It is well known that cellular processes occur daily for survival, from aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration to homeostasis and photosynthesis. But cellular complexity has captivated and challenged human interpretation for many years.

The cellular “machinery,” which accounts for critical functions, has remained the focus of biological studies. In spite of earlier studies investigating the genetic and molecular basis of these processes and providing unparalleled insights, humans are still far from understanding and predicting the behavior of cells when challenged to varying conditions.

Specifically, the heterogeneity basis in single-cell behavior and the beginning of many different mechanical, transcriptional, or metabolic responses to environmental stimuli are yet to be fully explained.

Now, scientists from the University of Warwick’s School of Life Sciences have published an article titled “Bioelectrical understanding and engineering of cell biology” in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface on May 20th, 2020.

In this study, the researchers have gone beyond the current situation of interpreting cell behaviors, and according to them, a combination of physiology, physics, and genetics can be grounded on a bioelectrical view of cells.

The researchers debated that a bioelectrical conceptualization can offer a predictive biological insight, which may lead to new ways to regulate the behavior of cells through electrochemical and electrical methods, thereby setting the stage for the evolution of bioelectrical engineering.

When looking at the underlying chemistry of this ‘machinery’ it is easy to recognise the importance of electricity in biological phenomena. Here we advocate that the understanding of cells as electrical entities will pave the way to fully understand, predict and modulate cellular function.”

Dr Orkun Soyer, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick

When cellular functions are understood it could have a huge impact on healthcare, as conditions related to, for example, homeostasis such as heart failure or diabetes, could have new treatments researched if we can manipulate the bioelectricity in the cells,” Dr Soyer concluded.

Source:
Journal reference:

Schofield, Z., et al. (2020) Bioelectrical understanding and engineering of cell biology. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2020.0013.

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