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International consortium builds 'Google Map' of human metabolism
Date:3/3/2013

among pathways or different sectors of metabolism. This is not unlike how you can get a street view of a single house or zoom out to see how the house fits into the whole neighborhood, city, state, country and globe. And just as Google maps brings together a broad set of data such as images, addresses, streets and traffic flow into an easily navigated tool, Recon 2 pulls together a vast compendium of data from published literature and existing models of metabolic processes.

As a multi-scale representation of the human metabolic network, Recon 2 provides essential context for data being reviewed by researchers. Palsson and other scientists in the field have already successfully demonstrated the utility of such models in simple organisms such as yeast and E.coli. As a result, they have been able to engineer these organisms in the lab to improve the efficiency of ethanol production and predict drug resistance in bacteria.

One of the most promising applications for the network reconstruction is the ability to identify specific gene expressions and their metabolic pathways for targeted drug delivery. Large gene expression databases are available for human cells that have been treated with molecules extracted from existing drugs as well as drugs that are in development. Recon 2 allows researchers to use this existing gene expression data and knowledge of the entire metabolic network to figure how certain drugs would affect specific metabolic pathways found to create the conditions for cancerous cell growth, for example. They could then conduct virtual experiments to see whether the drug can fix the metabolic imbalance causing the disease.

Palsson's Systems Biology Research Group at UC San Diego built the first virtual reconstruction of the human metabolism network, known as Recon 1, in 2007 with a six-person team. It featured more than 3,300 known biochemical reactions documented in over 50 years of metabolic research. Recon 2, which co
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Contact: Catherine Hockmuth
chockmuth@ucsd.edu
858-822-1359
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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International consortium builds 'Google Map' of human metabolism
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