Navigation Links
Key to future medical breakthroughs is systems biology, say leading European scientists
Date:1/13/2009

Crucial breakthroughs in the treatment of many common diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's could be achieved by harnessing a powerful scientific approach called systems biology, according to leading scientists from across Europe. In a Science Policy Briefing released today by the European Science Foundation, the scientists provide a detailed strategy for the application of systems biology to medical research over the coming years.

Systems biology is a rapidly advancing field that combines empirical, mathematical and computational techniques to gain understanding of complex biological and physiological phenomena. For example, dozens, or even hundreds, of proteins can be involved in signalling processes that ensure the proper functioning of a cell. If such a signalling network is disturbed in any way, diseases such as cancer and diabetes can result.

Conventional approaches of biology do not have the capacity to unravel these elaborate webs of interactions, which is why drug design often fails. Simply knocking out one target molecule in a biochemical pathway is turning out to be a flawed strategy for drug design, because cells are able to find alternative routes. It is a similar scenario to setting up a roadblock: traffic will grind to a standstill for a short time, but soon motorists will start turning around and using side-roads to get to their destination. Just as the network of roads allows alternative routes to be used, the network of biochemical pathways can enable a disease to by-pass a drug.

Systems biology is now shedding light on these complex phenomena by producing detailed route maps of the subcellular networks. These will make it possible for scientists to develop smarter therapeutic strategies for example by disrupting two or three key intersections on a biochemical network. This could lead to significant advances in the treatment of disease and help with the shrinking pipeline of pharmaceutical companies using traditional reductionist approaches to drug discovery.

The new policy document, produced by the Life Sciences and Medical Sciences units of the Strasbourg-based European Science Foundation (ESF) calls for a co-ordinated strategy towards systems biology across Europe. The scientists have pinpointed several key disease areas that are ripe for a systems biology approach. These include cancer and diabetes, inflammatory diseases and disorders of the central nervous system.

The report's authors state that the recommendations outlined in the Science Policy Briefing provide a more specific, practical guide towards achieving major breakthroughs in biomedical systems biology, thereby covering issues that had not been previously addressed in sufficient detail. In particular we identify and outline the necessary steps of promoting the creation of pivotal biomedical systems biology tools and facilitating their translation into crucial therapeutic advances.

The report highlights some recent successes where mathematical modelling has played a key role. The conclusions from these examples are that success was achieved when quantitative data became available; that even simple mathematical models can be of practical use and that the interdisciplinary process leading to the formulation of a model is in itself of intrinsic value.

This Science Policy Briefing is the contribution of the ESF to the EC funded Specific Support Action entitled "Advancing Systems Biology for Medical Applications" (SSA LSSG-CT-2006-037673). The recommendations resulted from ten workshops, in which more than 110 acknowledged experts from across Europe participated.

The report's authors believe that, if this document succeeds in prodding European institutions into supporting systems biology, the implementation of the recommendations presented will propel Europe to the forefront of research in systems biology and, in particular, help this interdisciplinary field to fulfil its promise of making a reality of personalised medicine, combinatorial therapy, shortened drug discovery and development, better targeted clinical trials and reduced animal testing.


'/>"/>

Contact: Olaf Wolkenhauer
Olaf.Wolkenhauer@uni-rostock.de
49-038-149-87570
European Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Great Plains historical stability vulnerable to future changes
2. Gene may hold key to future cancer hope
3. DOE publishes update of plan: Facilities for the Future of Science: A 20-Year Outlook
4. NASA technology helps predict and prevent future pandemic outbreaks
5. Sunbathing tree frogs future under a cloud
6. Methane from microbes: a fuel for the future
7. Setting a course for the future of tissue engineering
8. Air quality forecasts see future in space
9. Oceans Past: A Guide to Oceans Future
10. Building the future -- 21st century nano tools to repair the nervous system
11. Climate change in the Baltic Sea basin -- past, present and future
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/6/2017)... 5, 2017  Delta ID Inc., a leader in ... for automotive at CES® 2017. Delta ID has collaborated ... demonstrate the use of iris scanning as a secure, ... driver in a car, and as a way to ... Delta ID and Gentex will demonstrate (booth ...
(Date:12/22/2016)... 20, 2016  As part of its longstanding mission to ... genetics company, recently released its latest children,s book, titled ... focuses on the topics of inheritance and variation of traits ... taught in elementary school classrooms in the US. ... illustrator Ariana Killoran , whose previous book with 23andMe, ...
(Date:12/19/2016)... , España y TORONTO , 19 de ... con Northern Biologics Inc. que permitirá el desarrollo acelerado de MSC-1, ... clínicos en varios tipos de tumor en 2017, con múltiples sitios ... ... su clase con objetivo en el factor inhibidor de leucemia (LIF), ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/17/2017)... 17, 2017  On January 10 at the Medtech ... Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco ... , spoke to pharmaceutical leaders and public and private ... break down and destroy biofilms.  Biofilms ... antibiotics and the body,s immune system from eradicating chronic ...
(Date:1/16/2017)... , Jan. 16, 2017   Valentin A. ... Tracey, MD , president and CEO of The ... completed an analysis of how the nervous system regulates ... and develop bioelectronic medicine devices to treat ... Nature Neuroscience . The paper examines ...
(Date:1/16/2017)...  Eurofins Genomics today announced the expansion of its ... receive their primers in a shorter turnaround time, without ... with other providers. Express oligos are available for anyone ... no additional fee. Researchers use the oligos ... sequencing, genotyping, site-directed mutagenesis, and cloning. Often, they are ...
(Date:1/14/2017)... , Jan. 13, 2017  The Alliance for Safe ... response to FDA final guidance on biologic ... continued leadership in emphasizing the importance of distinct naming ... aware of the benefits biosimilars will bring to patients, ... Yet the portion of the Guidance dealing with ...
Breaking Biology Technology: