How Math Was Used to Unlock a Key Biological Process

math used to unlock key biological processThe biological process that keeps us healthy has just been made easier to explain and predict. An article on ScienceDaily reports that scientists at the University of Southern California, with the help of a mathematical model they created, have unlocked the secrets of antibody diversity, the bodily process which uses hypermutation to generate healthy immune systems.

“We can now predict the motion of a key enzyme that initiates hypermutations in immunoglobulin [Ig] genes”, says Myron Goodman, professor of biological sciences and chemistry at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and co-author of the study along with Chi Mak, professor of chemistry at USC Dornsife.

The mathematical model Goodman and Mak created for the study allowed them to describe the motion and interaction with the DNA of the “activation-induced deoxycytidine deaminase” (or AID) enzyme, which is responsible for the creation of the mutation that gives a person protection against germs that one’s body hasn’t even seen yet.

“Mathematics is the universal language behind physical science, but its central role in interpreting biology is just beginning to be recognized,” Mak said.

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