Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climbing to the next level: the German Virtual Liver Network

05.08.2010
The aim of this unique research consortium is to grasp the whole organ and its functions in a computer model.

In April 2010, an ambitious new project was launched in Germany: The German Virtual Liver Network. Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), this major interdisciplinary research initiative is the only one of its kind in the world that focuses effort on a single organ across multiple scales of complexity. With an allocated budget over five years of approximately 43 million euros, it is also the only research network worldwide to be financed by a single national organization in systems biology.

The Network’s goal is to create a computer model of the liver as a complete organ with all of its diverse and essential functions. Thus it should be possible to better understand the processes in the liver and to develop tailor-made medications.

A biochemical factory in the body
The liver is a unique organ: as the central metabolic organ of vertebrates, it synthesizes, converts and breaks down more than 10,000 substances daily, helping the body to digest food and detoxify itself. It aids digestion, controls iron uptake and synthesizes vital proteins such as coagulation factors. Furthermore, hepatic metabolism is a major factor that needs to be considered in drug development, as it is central to toxicity and drug efficacy. The exploration of the liver and its functions by the Network is therefore of the greatest relevance to medicine and the pharmaceutical industry.
Looking to the future with systems biology
In order to get an overall picture both of the liver as a whole and of the diverse and dynamic processes in the organ, the Network’s researchers are looking to systems biology for help. This branch of science, which deals with the exploration of biological processes at the systems level, seeks to create a holistic picture of dynamic life processes at all levels – from the genome to the proteome and up to the complete cell or even an entire organism. In order to achieve this goal, systems biology links quantitative methods from the field of molecular and cellular biology with techniques and tools from the areas of mathematics, computer sciences and systems sciences. “Systems biology can accelerate the transfer from academic research to use on patients and can cut costs in the development of medications. That’s why it is a key technology and a driving force of innovation for individualized medicine of the future,” emphasizes Federal Minister for Education and Research Annette Schavan in a BMBF's press release in July 2010.
From the cell to the whole organ
In recent years, the HepatoSys network dealt intensively with the systems biology of the liver cell. Building on these results, the project’s successor, the German Virtual Liver Network, now aims to understand the processes in cell aggregates up to the entire organ. For this ambitious project spanning the entire nation, 70 research groups from 41 institutions in science and industry have joined forces. Together these scientists aim to develop integrated computer models capable of generating experimentally testable predictions that are relevant to the physiology of the liver, as well as the function of the organism, and how this is disturbed in disease. This will contribute to an improved understanding of the liver as the body’s most important metabolic organ and how its function is affected in disease. By using validated simulations, these models will greatly benefit efforts to find new therapies, to predict how active substances distribute in the organ, where they attack, and how quickly they are broken down. Thus, medications can be developed in a more targeted, efficient and cost-effective manner and tailored to deliver the optimum dosage to the right patient at the right time.
A world leader
The German Virtual Liver Network is the first project worldwide to aim at building a truly multi-scale computer model of a complete organ– from the biomolecular and biochemical processes up to the anatomy of the whole organ – and including them in the simulation. “The challenge is immense, but we are looking forward to accepting it – not only to promote an understanding of the liver, but also to provide a strong impetus to the entire area of systems biological research. Our goal is to give evidence of a genuine impact on healthcare” says Adriano Henney, program director of the German Virtual Liver Network.

Sabine Trunz | idw
Further information:
http://www.sbmc2010.de
http://www.hepatosys.de/

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Body Talk: A New Crowdshaping Technology Uses Words to Create Accurate 3D Body Models
27.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Intelligente Systeme

nachricht When the Brain Grows, the IQ Rises
16.02.2016 | Technische Universität Chemnitz

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Streamlining accelerated computing for industry

PyFR code combines high accuracy with flexibility to resolve unsteady turbulence problems

Scientists and engineers striving to create the next machine-age marvel--whether it be a more aerodynamic rocket, a faster race car, or a higher-efficiency jet...

Im Focus: X-ray optics on a chip

Waveguides are widely used for filtering, confining, guiding, coupling or splitting beams of visible light. However, creating waveguides that could do the same for X-rays has posed tremendous challenges in fabrication, so they are still only in an early stage of development.

In the latest issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances , Sarah Hoffmann-Urlaub and Tim Salditt report the fabrication and testing of...

Im Focus: Piggyback battery for microchips: TU Graz researchers develop new battery concept

Electrochemists at TU Graz have managed to use monocrystalline semiconductor silicon as an active storage electrode in lithium batteries. This enables an integrated power supply to be made for microchips with a rechargeable battery.

Small electrical gadgets, such as mobile phones, tablets or notebooks, are indispensable accompaniments of everyday life. Integrated circuits in the interiors...

Im Focus: UCI physicists confirm possible discovery of fifth force of nature

Light particle could be key to understanding dark matter in universe

Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according...

Im Focus: Wi-fi from lasers

White light from lasers demonstrates data speeds of up to 2 GB/s

A nanocrystalline material that rapidly makes white light out of blue light has been developed by KAUST researchers.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

The energy transition is not possible without Geotechnics

25.08.2016 | Event News

New Ideas for the Shipping Industry

24.08.2016 | Event News

A week of excellence: 22 of the world’s best computer scientists and mathematicians in Heidelberg

12.08.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cleanroom on demand

29.08.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Crystal unclear: Why might this uncanny crystal change laser design?

29.08.2016 | Materials Sciences

Spherical tokamaks could provide path to limitless fusion energy

29.08.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>