Systems Biology is a young field with the overall aim of creating a holistic picture of dynamic life processes with regard to all levels - from the genome via the proteome and the organisation of the cell organelles all the way to the complete cell or even an entire organism.
In doing so, Systems Biology takes into consideration the dynamic interplay of the components involved. In order to achieve this high aspiration, Systems Biology combines quantitative methods used in molecular biology with knowledge gathered in mathematics, informatics and systems science.
The HepatoSys consortium was launched in 2004 as the first large and interdisciplinary network in the field of Systems Biology. Since then, more than 40 research groups all over Germany have applied themselves to the investigation of molecular- and cell-biological processes in the liver cell (hepatocyte). "In the course of the last few years we have laid the foundation for a systems biology investigation of hepatocytes", says CancerSys coordinator Prof. Dr. Jan Hengstler of the University of Dortmund.
Computer models for the simulation of signal transmission pathways were developed as well as standardized cell culture conditions and common process specifications to form a base for quantitative analysis of the processes within the cell and also for interdisciplinary collaboration. "On this basis, we can now turn toward more specific questions such as the processes involved in the evolution of liver cancer", explains Dr. Hengstler who has a leading part in the HepatoSys network as the coordinator of the cell biology platform.
CancerSys is aiming at two particular signal paths known to play a role in the development of cancer if they get out of control, namely, the beta-catenin- and the ras-signal paths. Both regulate the reproduction (proliferation) of liver cells and have an influence on their gene activity. The beta-catenin-path is particularly relevant in the center of the lobe of the liver whereas the ras-signals are dominant in the periportal area, i.e. close to the portal vein which is the gateway for blood entering the liver.
The objective of the CancerSys consortium is to construct dynamic models of these two signal paths and their interaction and to then integrate them into a three-dimensional simulation of the liver. "We created mathematical models on the basis of quantitative molecular- and cell-biological tests and then built a bridge from this set of formulas to the visible changes caused by the cancerous process in the liver", Hengstler said, in explaining their research objective. By means of this hitherto unique methodical approach, it is possible to graphically reconstruct which consequences a change - i.e. through gene mutations, viral diseases or toxic substances such as alcohol and certain medications - involves in the network of signal paths and can thus contribute to the development of cancer. Impressive first simulations can be viewed at http://inria.livertumor.hoehme.com.
The CancerSys research project was given the highest possible rating by the European Union brain-trust and is expected to take up work early in 2009. In the first instance, nine project partners with their research groups are participating. Four of them will work experimentally, four will work theoretically and one will work in both modes. Most of the research teams involved are from the HepatoSys consortium as well as from other German systems biology networks. International groups from Europe and the US will also take part. "Not only do we expect substantial progress from the network on the subject of liver cancer," says Hengstler. "CancerSys also signifies an expansion and better visibility for German systems biology research, especially for HepatoSys, on an international level". Thus the activities of CancerSys will have positive effects on Germany as a research location.
Ute Heisner | alfa
Satellite data for agriculture
28.07.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Magnetic Quantum Objects in a "Nano Egg-Box"
25.07.2017 | Universität Wien
Spectrally narrow x-ray pulses may be “sharpened” by purely mechanical means. This sounds surprisingly, but a team of theoretical and experimental physicists developed and realized such a method. It is based on fast motions, precisely synchronized with the pulses, of a target interacting with the x-ray light. Thereby, photons are redistributed within the x-ray pulse to the desired spectral region.
A team of theoretical physicists from the MPI for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg has developed a novel method to intensify the spectrally broad x-ray...
Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.
Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
28.07.2017 | Health and Medicine
28.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.07.2017 | Life Sciences