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Biologists use AI to flesh out cell’s inner workings

3-D cell model
A 3-D view of human cells is color-coded to highlight substructures. (Allen Institute for Cell Science)

What happens when you cross cell biology with artificial intelligence? At the Allen Institute for Cell Science, the answer isn’t super-brainy microbes, but new computer models that can turn simple black-and-white pictures of live human cells into color-coded, 3-D visualizations filled with detail.

The online database, known as the Allen Integrated Cell, is now being made publicly available — and its creators say it could open up new windows into the workings of our cells.

“From a single, simple microscopy image, you could get this very high-contrast, integrated 3-D image where it’s very easy to see where all the separate structures are,” Molly Maleckar, director of modeling at the Seattle-based Allen Institute, told GeekWire.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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