The aim is to revolutionise the way medical research is conducted by taking an engineering-led approach under the umbrella of systems biology, in which rigorous mathematical models are derived from experimental data and used to make predictions, about disease for example, that can be tested and then refined.
Ultimately such methods will be applied to all major problems in biology, but for the upcoming EuroBioForum, the focus will be on one field, metabolic syndrome, as a proving ground for the new approach, according to Professor Roel van Driel from the University of Amsterdam and Netherlands Institute for Systems Biology and co-chair of the ESF Forward Look on Systems Biology. He is also the proposer of the Systems Biology to combat Metabolic Syndrome (SBMS) initiative.
The SBMS plan is to establish a coordinated €175 million 10-year European programme with the ultimate ambition of developing effective therapies, including diet and lifestyle as well as drugs, that both reduce the risk of acquiring metabolic syndrome conditions, and bring significant relief for existing sufferers. Metabolic syndrome embraces a range of serious inter-related conditions including obesity and diabetes. The programme would adopt an engineering-led data-driven approach to systematically unravel the combined molecular, cellular, and organismal basis of the individual metabolic syndrome components, according to van Driel. These components include insulin resistance, associated with Type II diabetes, the most common form of diabetes in the western word; weight gain; glucose intolerance; high blood pressure; and high blood cholesterol (dyslipedemia), which can cause atherosclerosis, a disease of the blood vessels.
The radical departure of SBMS from the traditional ad hoc approach to medical research was motivated by a growing appreciation of how complex all important biological problems are, according to van Driel. This realisation has developed since completion of major genome sequencing projects, which created huge amounts of data, but as yet little more understanding of how biology works at a fundamental level.
The key to success of SBMS will lie in creating a coordinated framework of world class projects. Some of these will draw from existing national and Europe-wide programmes that are concentrating at present on specific aspects of metabolic syndrome. “We will select those that are fit for a systems biology approach and create a strong and well-focused consortium of European research groups,” said van Driel, who conceded that this was far from trivial.
Indeed the challenge posed by systems biology was more organisational than scientific, van Driel insisted. “It’s not primarily a science problem. We are good at doing the science itself, but very poor at getting organised.”
However, EuroBioForum’s role is to tackle this organisational challenge with a new approach. EuroBioForum is the annual conference of EuroBioFund, which was launched in 2006 by the European Science Foundation with support from the EU through the Sixth Framework Programme, to bring together public and private sources of funding to catalyse the development of large scale pan-European life science research programmes.
The SBMS project will be a testing ground both for both EuroBioFund’s approach to research funding, and the new methods driven by systems biology, aiming to make research more clearly defined and based on computational models that make testable predictions and are capable of continuous refinement in the light of emerging data. “We aim to change the way biomedical research is done,” said van Driel.
Thomas Lau | alfa
Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin
Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Event News