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A mathematical theory proposed by Alan Turing in 1952 can explain the formation of fingers
Date:7/31/2014

pace (a bit like longitude and latitude on a world map). Today's publication highlights instead that local self-organising mechanisms may be much more important in organogenesis than previously thought.

Arriving at the correct understanding of multicellular organization is essential if we are to develop effective strategies for regenerative medicine, and one day to possibly engineer replacement tissues for various organs. In the shorter term, these results also explain why polydactyly the development of extra fingers or toes is such a common birth defect in humans: Turing systems are mathematically known to have slightly lower precision in regulating the number of "stripes" than alternative models.

At first glance, the question of how an embryo develops seems unrelated to the problems of computing and algorithms with which Turing is more commonly associated. In reality however, they were both expressions of his interest in how complex and clever biological "machines" arise in nature. In a sense, he sought the algorithms by which life builds itself. It is fitting that this study, which has confirmed Turing's 62 year-old theory on embryology, required the development of a serious computer model. It brings together two of his major life achievements into one satisfying result.


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Contact: Juan Manuel Sarasua
juan.sarasua@crg.eu
34-934-160-159
Center for Genomic Regulation
Source:Eurekalert  

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