Get a colorful 3-D view of human stem cells

3-D stem cell
A color-coded visualization shows a human stem cell as its nucleus undergoes mitosis and segmentation. (Allen Institute for Cell Science)

Imagine being able to see inside a transparent human stem cell, like the “Visible Man and Woman” models in biology class. That’s what the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Cell Science lets you do with its brand-new data imaging platform, the Allen Cell Explorer.

The cells you see on the screen aren’t made-up animations: They’re based on an analysis of high-quality photomicrographs documenting more than 6,000 induced pluripotent stem cells, or IPS cells, derived from human skin cells.

The IPS cells underwent gene editing to attach fluorescent markers to 11 different types of structures that make up the cells’ machinery – and that’s not all. The institute then applied deep-learning computational methods to predict the complete structure of each cell, based on their glowing patterns.

“This is the first time researchers have used deep learning to try and understand the elusive question of how actual cells are organized,” Rick Horwitz, the institute’s executive director, said in a news release.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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