Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Berkeley Lab Scientists Take a Look at Systems Biology and Cellular Networking

18.03.2011
Systems biology is a holistic approach to the study of how a living organism emerges from the interactions of the individual elements that make up its constituent cells.

Embracing a broad range of disciplines, this field of science that is just beginning to come into public prominence holds promise for advances in a number of important areas, including safer, more effective pharmaceuticals, improved environmental remediation, and clean, green, sustainable energy.

However, the most profound impact of systems biology, according to one of its foremost practitioners, is that it might one day provide an answer to the central question: What is life?

Adam Arkin, director of the Physical Biosciences Division of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a leading computational biologist, is the corresponding author of an essay in the journal Cell which describes in detail key technologies and insights that are advancing systems biology research. The paper is titled “Network News:Innovations in 21st Century Systems Biology.” Co-authoring the article is David Schaffer, a chemical engineer with Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division. Both Arkin and Schaffer also hold appointments with the University of California (UC) Berkeley.

“System biology aims to understand how individual elements of the cell generate behaviors that allow survival in changeable environments, and collective cellular organization into structured communities,” Arkin says. “Ultimately, these cellular networks assemble into larger population networks to form large-scale ecologies and thinking machines, such as humans.”

In their essay, Arkin and Schaffer argue that the ideas behind systems biology originated more than a century ago and that the field should be viewed as “a mature synthesis of thought about the implications of biological structure and its dynamic organization.” Research into the evolution, architecture, and function of cells and cellular networks in combination with ever expanding computational power has led to predictive genome-scale regulatory and metabolic models of organisms. Today systems biology is ready to “bridge the gap between correlative analysis and mechanistic insights” that can transform biology from a descriptive science to an engineering science.

Adam Arkin (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab Public Affairs)
Discoveries in systems biology, the authors say, can generally be divided between those that relied on a “mechanistic approach to causal relationships,” and those that relied on “large-scale correlation analysis.” The results of these discoveries can also be categorized according to whether they primarily pertained to the principles behind cellular network organization, or to predictions about the behavior of these networks.

“As systems biology matures, the number of studies linking correlation with causation and principles with prediction will continue to grow,” Schaffer says. “Advances in measurement technologies that enable large-scale experiments across an array of parameters and conditions will increasingly meld these correlative and causal approaches, including correlative analyses leading to mechanistic hypothesis testing, as well as causal models empowered with sufficient data to make predictions.”

As the complete genomes of more organisms are sequenced, and measurement and genetic manipulation technologies are improved, scientists will be able to compare systems across a broader expanse of phylogenetic trees. This, Arkin and Schaffer say, will enhance our understanding of mechanistic features that are necessary for function and evolution.

“The increasing integration of experimental and computational technologies will thus corroborate, deepen, and diversify the theories that the earliest systems biologists used logic to infer,” Arkin says. “This will thereby inch us ever closer to answering the What is Life question.”

The systems biology research cited in this essay by Arkin and Schaffer was supported by DOE’s Office of Science (Biological and Environmental Research), and by the National Institutes of Health.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory managed by the University of California for the DOE Office of Science. Berkeley Lab provides solutions to the world’s most urgent scientific challenges including sustainable energy, climate change, human health, and a better understanding of matter and force in the universe. It is a world leader in improving our lives through team science, advanced computing, and innovative technology. Visit our Website at www.lbl.gov

Additional Information

For more about Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division, visit the Website at http://pbd.lbl.gov/

Lynn Yarris | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.lbl.gov
http://newscenter.lbl.gov/feature-stories/2011/03/17/systems-biology-and-cellular-networking/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika

23.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>