Biocentre revolutionises medicine production

Related tags Dna Gene

A new £6 million (€9m) biocentre is set to revolutionise the way
future medicines are produced making them safer and more effective.
The centre, based in the UK, will not only help pharmaceutical
companies to develop better drugs, but potentially reduce the time
it takes to develop them.

The Manchester Centre for Integrative Systems Biology (MCISB) will pioneer an entirely new approach to biology which will pioneer the development of new technologies in Systems Biology - a new approach to genomics which uses complex computational and mathematical analysis to advance on traditional methods.

Systems Biology is a new approach to studying animals, plants and microbes that combines theory, computer modelling and experiments. It is revolutionising how bioscientists think and work; and will make the outputs of biological research more useful, and easier to use in industry and policymaking.

Traditionally, biologists have used observation and experiment to describe how specific processes work on a case-by-case basis, and used their understanding to design more experiments to test each new case.

The key to systems biology is that researchers combine experimentation with computer simulations in order to process experimental results, design new experiments and to generate generic and predictive solutions that are widely applicable.

One application in which Systems Biology has played a major role in is The Human Genome Project, catalysing two changes in contemporary biology and medicine-systems biology and predictive, preventive and personalised medicine. The Human Genome Project has provided access to the extensive human genome variability (polymorphisms) that distinguishes each of us from one another (apart from identical twins).

Professor Douglas Kell, Director of the MCISB, said: "The last fifty years of molecular biology have failed to discover the existence of a substantial number of genes in some very well studied organisms, which has hindered the development of the most effective medicines."

"Our aim is to develop the systems which will allow University scientists and pharmaceutical companies to understand how every gene in an organism works and reacts. This will provide them with the tools they need to develop safer and more effective medicines."

Up to 48 per cent of genes in yeast are very similar to genes in humans. If the process of how drugs react with yeast can be understood scientists can predict their reactions in humans too. This will allow pharmaceutical companies to develop medicines more efficiently because they will know in advance how people are going respond to them.

Professor Stephen Oliver, a senior member of the MCISB research team said: "Systems biology will be a major trend in life sciences for at least the next decade."

The University of Manchester​ are not the only ones investing large sums of time and money into Systems Biology. IBM, Lynx Therapeutics, and the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) recently announced a collaboration to study how cells of the human immune system respond to infectious diseases.

IBM Research's Computational Biology Centre, Lynx, and the ISB will collaborate on the analysis of the data from the experiments. The goal of this study is to uncover correlations between activated genes and the cellular response of macrophages to microbial infection. It is expected that the data handling for this project will identify basic IT requirements for computational biology in systems biology research.

Related topics Preclinical Research

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