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GEN reports on novel tools for deciphering biological networks

New Rochelle, NY, October 17, 2008Systems biology scientists from diverse areas of research are developing a range of methods to model pathways, interpret data, and derive therapeutic targets from biological networks, reports Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN). A major focal point of much of the work is to characterize the effects of drugs on the activity of large, complex biological networks, according to an article in the October 15 issue of GEN (

"Interdisciplinary research involving biology, chemistry, IT, and mathematics is the sine qua non of systems biology," says John Sterling, Editor-in-Chief of GEN. "The field will have a huge impact on every aspect of biotechnology, including health care, agriculture, and energy."

Biological systems are governed by vast networks of interacting molecules that include DNA, RNA, proteins, and small molecules. In an attempt to produce an accurate map of these molecular interactions, the IBM Computational Biology Center and the MAGNet National Center for Biomedical Computing at Columbia University have initiated a project entitled "Dialogue for Reverse Engineering Assessments and Methods (DREAM)."

A team at Harvard University is investigating signaling pathways for receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). Since many RTKs are oncogenes, the group in trying to find out which pathways get turned on and to understand the impact of mutations in the RTKs. The scientists reason that if such a complex signaling network can be parsed into segments, this could provide a means for prediction that would be invaluable for drug discovery and the rational design of therapeutics.


Contact: John Sterling
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News

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