Blacksburg, Va. -- Four researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech and their colleagues at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine are advocating the use of systems biology as an innovative clinical approach to cancer. This approach could result in the development of improved diagnostic tools and treatment options, as well as potential new drug targets to help combat the many potentially fatal types of the disease.
In an upcoming paper* in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, the international journal of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, the team highlights the usefulness of a systems biology approach in developing a comprehensive view of cancer diseases, which will help researchers better understand the complex processes related to cancer progression, diagnosis, and treatment. Systems biology brings together mathematical modeling, simulations, and quantitative experiments, allowing researchers to use the data of one of the approaches to repeatedly define the framework of the other approaches. Biochemical networks are central to biological function, while computer models provide a particularly useful way to understand their workings. Biochemical models are the ideal means to design and predict the effect of interventions, such as cancer treatments.
"One of the goals of this paper is to show the potential benefits that can result from moving the use of systems biology techniques closer to the clinic," explained VBI Professor Reinhard Laubenbacher. "We believe this kind of shift is very possible. For example, mathematical models could integrate patient characteristics to help researchers determine the features of dynamic processes linked to cancer progression, diagnosis, and treatment. Systems biology has an increasingly important role in cancer research and treatment, especially as mathematical modelers, biologists, and clinicians continue working together. Through these transdisciplinary ef
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