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Systems Biology poised to revolutionize the understanding of cell function and disease
Date:9/7/2007

that biological entities are systems collections of interacting parts.

Mathias Reuss from the University of Stuttgart, Germany, warns that modelling the big picture must be tightly linked to experimental findings. It is no use flooding computers with omic data genome, proteome, metabolome and expect a data-driven miracle.

The tools for understanding the key processes of life are already within reach, argues Roel van Driel from the University of Amsterdam and Netherlands Institute for Systems Biology and co-chair of the ESF Forward Look on Systems Biology. In the next 10 years, he predicts, it will bring about major benefits to society. But success will depend on the cooperative efforts of large numbers of investigators rather than on individual research groups.

As Systems Biology progresses, it will be possible to synthesise new life forms from scratch. Uwe Sauer of the Institute of Molecular Systems Biology, ETH, in Zurich, Switzerland believes that a systems-perspective, rather than the current gene-centric view, could open up entirely new options for the production of chemicals, food products and in plant breeding.

To build realistic models of cells, tumours, or whole organisms and run them on a computer, scientists will want a mathematical tool box that can cope with complex behaviours. An entirely new mathematics will be needed, insists Mats Gyllenberg, University of Helsinki, Finland.

Modelling cellular networks in space and time will also depend on a close collaboration with the engineering and physical sciences, adds Olaf Wolkenhauser from the University of Rostock, Germany. But the main bottle-neck will be the storage of the masses of dynamic information, says Heikki Mannila from the Helsinki University of Technology and University of Helsinki, Finland. By comparison, sequencing of the human genome was an easy task for IT, he admits.

Ursula Klingmller, from the Systems Biology of Signal Transducti
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Contact: Thomas Lau
tlau@esf.org
33-388-762-158
European Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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