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Toward a systems biology map of iron metabolism
Date:4/28/2009

Blacksburg, Va. -- Scientists at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech have taken the first steps toward constructing a systems biology map of iron metabolism. The team has put together a general network of chemicals and reactions important for the many steps and reactions that constitute iron metabolism.

Iron is crucial to the survival of animal cells. When iron metabolism goes wrong the consequences can be devastating. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 2 billion people more than 30 percent of the world's population are afflicted by nutritional disorders that may be attributed in some way to iron deficiency.

The present study set out to provide researchers with a systems biology map of iron metabolism that would allow scientists to investigate changes in the network under different conditions.

The systems biology map was subsequently used to construct iron networks for specific types of cells that are known to be critical for iron metabolism. Mathematical approaches like the ones described in this study may prove useful in understanding the interactions between different iron-dependent species, identifying key regulatory points, simulating their response to stimuli, and understanding how these responses differ in various cell types.*

Dr. Suzy Torti, professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, remarked: "Iron is essential to human survival. However, iron can also facilitate the formation of oxygen free radicals, which can be damaging. Because of this dual nature of iron, it is very carefully regulated at both the level of the cell and the entire body. In this study, we have taken the first steps in organizing the complex regulatory networks that control iron into a mathematical model. Over the long term, we hope this will ena
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Contact: Barry Whyte
whyte@vbi.vt.edu
540-231-1767
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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