Friday, January 09, 2009

Systems Biology is important, starting.... Now

Systems Biology is apparently important, at least that is what 110 scientists from Europe are saying. Science Daily, Genome Web Daily News, are reporting that scientist from the European Science Foundation have published a report entitled, "Advancing Systems Biology for Medical Applications" (SSA LSSG-CT-2006-037673). This paper stresses the importance of developing systems biology techniques for improving medicine.

For the layman, Systems Biology refers the system of biochemical interactions, both the core components and the complex network of reactions that occur between them. Its genius occurred around the time that the human genome project was completing and the total estimate of protein coding genes was rapidly plummeting from initial expectations. Given the complexity of the human body, predictions reached up to 150K. But after all was said and done, estimates pegged the number at around 20K. Only twenty thousand genes to make a human, and it takes 41 000 genes to make rice.

If the complexity didn't come from the total number of genes, then it came from the complex network of those genes interacting.

For the cynic, basically nothing has changed. Everyone already knew that systems biology was important and the next step in understanding complex organisms. All this is about is reminding politicians that if they want results, they better be willing to sign some rather large checks.
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