'Roadmap' of hu­man me­tab­o­lism of­fers new un­der­stand­ing of can­cer, obe­sity, more…

Wellness Update - - Contents -

CHAR­LOTTESVILLE, Va. – An in­ter­na­tional con­sor­tium of re­searchers has cre­ated the largest com­puter model of hu­man me­tab­o­lism to date, an as­ton­ish­ingly de­tailed roadmap that points the way to bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of can­cer, obe­sity, di­a­betes, heart disease and a host of other con­di­tions. It’s a pow­er­ful new tool that will speed the de­vel­op­ment of new drugs and treat­ments and, even­tu­ally, may al­low doc­tors to tai­lor medicine to each pa­tient’s per­sonal biology.

Pre­dict­ing the genome

The model, called Re­con 2, de­tails thou­sands of meta­bolic func­tions that oc­cur within hu­mans’ cells. By un­der­stand­ing th­ese func­tions, their in­ter­ac­tions and how they in­flu­ence cel­lu­lar ac­tiv­ity, sci­en­tists can get the big pic­ture of the mi­cro­scopic cel­lu­lar universe. “Me­tab­o­lism is cen­tral to much of our body’s func­tion, and this model cap­tures thou­sands of dif­fer­ent meta­bolic pro­cesses,” ex­plained Ja­son Papin, PhD, a re­searcher at the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia School of Medicine in­volved in the project. “We start with the hu­man genome. This mod­el­ing ef­fort is a way to func­tion­al­ize the genome, a way to make value out of that se­quence in­for­ma­tion. With the genome, you have a parts list, the com­po­nents. What this model does is take the func­tions as­so­ci­ated with those com­po­nents and put them to­gether in a math­e­mat­i­cal way so that you can start to pre­dict how it will be­have.” The model is by far the most com­plete com­puter rep­re­sen­ta­tion of me­tab­o­lism yet, in­cor­po­rat­ing sev­eral pre­vi­ous mod­els and more than a thou­sand pa­pers. It rep­re­sents a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort of a sub­stan­tial per­cent­age of the top me­tab­o­lism re­searchers from around the globe. By bring­ing to­gether so much of sci­ence’s un­der­stand­ing of me­tab­o­lism, the re­searchers have cre­ated a way to bet­ter un­der­stand the meta­bolic mis­takes that cause disease -- and to speed fu­ture break­throughs to bat­tle those dis­eases.

Per­son­al­ized medicine

Take can­cer, for ex­am­ple. “The idea would be that if a

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