Scientists crack human metabolic code to track disease better

October 17th, 2008 - 1:24 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 17 (IANS) Normal and diseased tissues behave differently. If scientists knew how the tissues do that, they would be able to battle obesity, hypertension, diabetes and other metabolic disorders more effectively. A new computational approach developed by computer scientists Tomer Shlomi, Moran Cabili and Eytan Ruppin from Blavatnik School of Computer Science at Tel Aviv University (TAU) may help clinicians gain a clearer overall picture of the metabolic processes in different tissues.

Their model could be potentially used in the future to refine the diagnosis of various metabolic-related disorders, aid in treatment and develop new drugs.

The model integrates tissue-specific information from healthy or diseased organs and matches it to an existing model of the global human metabolic network to predict metabolic tissue behaviour, according to a TAU release.

Their results, shared with Markus Herrgard and Bernhard Palsson from the University of San Diego, “establish a computational basis for the genome-wide study of normal and abnormal human metabolism in a tissue-specific manner”, says Ruppin.

The computational model describes metabolism in 10 different human tissues, exposing the functions in the body responsible for metabolism - a set of chemical reactions occurring in living organisms that allows tissues to grow, maintain their structures, and function and respond to other bodily cues.

Building on these results, TAU team are now working on developing tools for the discovery of biomarkers (metabolites that can be measured in the blood and urine) that are associated with different diseases.

These results appeared recently in Nature Biotechnology.

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