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YSIC: The Silicon Yeast

An expression of interest for FP6.


Enormous amounts of molecular data are being collected concerning living organisms. Ultimately this information should allow us to understand precisely the functioning of those organisms and to cure their diseases. Because of the complexity, that understanding will require computer assistance, the ultimate form of which will be computer replica of the living organism. Such computer replica should allow the pharmaceutical industry to test their new drugs in silico, and even to design new classes of drugs. The replica should also allow clinicians to test their therapies. Ultimately each human individual might have its computer replica which can then be used in case of disease.

Utopia? Yes, but not quite. The making of a computer replica of a human being is nowhere near possible. Yet, computer replica have been made of parts of simpler living organisms.


We here propose a concerted European effort towards the first complete replica of one organism. The organism of choice is the unicellular eukaryote S. cerevisiae, i.e. Bakersí yeast. This is because it is the organism for which the combination of feasibilty and relevance is optimal. Other cell types may be closer to human cells, but too little is known about them and they are not well accessible experimentally, or they may be slightly better known that S. cerevisiae but then they are very dissimilar from human cells.


The making of this Silicon Cell has the following concrete aims:

-Development and testing of all the methodology required for making mammalian and human Silicon cells

-To make complete use of all the Genomics information and all the Biochemical, Biophysical and Cell Biological information that is already available

-To curate all that available information, as errors will turn up when comparing the behavior of the Silicon Cell with experimental cells

-Development of a Silicon Cell that is of sufficient interest for the pharmaceutical industry to test their drugs in. It is anticipated that the FDA may even make drug testing on this Silicon Cell mandatory for new drugs.

-Development of a reference Silicon cell for all future Silicon cells

-To reduce the need for more expensive wet-lab experiments and animal testing

Preliminary coordinating team:

Lilia Alberghina

Barbara Bakker

David Fell

Mattias Reuss

Johan Thevelein

Hans V. Westerhoff

Further Information:

If interested, please contact HW@BIO.VU.NL

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