lunes, 1 de octubre de 2007

About Systems Biology & Synthetic Biology

What physics was to the 20th century, biology will be to the 21st, and Quantitative Biology (Systems Biology and Synthetic Biology) will be a vital part of it.

Systems Biology is a merger of Systems and Control Theory with Molecular and Cell Biology.

Systems biology aims to explain how higher level properties of complex biological systems arise from the interactions among their parts. This new field requires a fusion of concepts from many disciplines, including biology, computer science, applied mathematics, physics and engineering.

Systems Biology is about "quantitative, predictive and dynamical biology". The ultimate aim of "quantitative, predictive and dynamical biology" is a reliable computational model of the cell, and a "Integrative Systems Physiology" model of the organism. It has a tremendous economic potential for pharmaceutical, and biotech industry. And in the case of the neuronal cell it also has a tremendous economic potential for computer companies.

Perhaps the most excitement about systems biology lies in the area of predictive, preventive and personalized medicine. Predictive, preventive and personalized medicine has the potential to transform medicine by decreasing morbidity and mortality due to chronic diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s and diabetes.

Also in "Systems Biology" it is very important discovering the "DESIGN PRINCIPLES" (quantitative laws that govern the behavior of biological systems) which are common in physics and engineering, but so far have eluded biology. If we discover the "Design Principles" we will be able to design biological systems having desired properties (of that SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY consists).

What is Synthetic Biology?

Synthetic biology is the engineering of biology: the synthesis of complex, biologically based (or inspired) systems which display functions that do not exist in nature. This engineering perspective may be applied at all levels of the hierarchy of biological structures –from individual molecules to whole cells, tissues and organisms. In essence, synthetic biology will enable the design of 'biological systems' in a rational and systematic way.

This distinctive new approach promises solutions to some of today's most pressing and difficult problems in environmental protection, human health and energy production. It also provides an alternative perspective from which to consider, analyze and ultimately understand our living world.

Some useful mathematical tools in Systems Biology are Control Theory, Complex Adaptive Systems Theory, Computational Intelligence, Complex Networks Theory, Dynamical Systems theory, Nonlinear Dynamics, Process Algebra, and Stochastic Processes. But it is also very important to develop new experimental techniques to validate the theoretical analysis.

Interesting Videos:

The Music of Life: A new view on Nature and Nurture

Mathematical Modeling of Cell Signalling Pathways


" We are interested in how biological molecules communicate with each other, and how this communication encodes the processing of information. How do biomolecules recognize one another, and how do their interactions transduce signals? How do molecules build up "modules" that act as "adaptors", "switches" and feedback-loops? How are modules wired together into the networks responsible for regulation and decision processes observed in biology? " Tanja Kortemme (UCSF)

"Controlled gene expression using engineered in-vivo digital-logic circuits and intercellular communications enables programmed cell behavior that is complex, predictable and reliable." Ron Weiss (PhD Thesis Statement, MIT)

"Life is a relationship among molecules and not a property of any molecule." Linus Pauling

"The aim of science is not things in themselves but the relations between things; outside these relations there is no reality knowable." Henri Poincare

"Systems Biology: Understanding of biological network behaviors, and in particular their dynamic aspects, which requires the utilization of mathematical modeling tightly linked to experiment." WTEC

The biological agenda of Systems Biology should subsequently be defined by the following two questions related to intra- and intercellular processes within a cell and in cell populations:
  • How do the components within a cell interact, so as to bring about its structure and realise its functioning?
  • How do cells interact, so as to develop and maintain higher levels of organization and function?

Olaf Wolkenhauer (University of Rostock) and Mihajlo Mesarovic (Case Western Reserve University)

8 comentarios:

amiya dijo...

You are right! After the mysteries of the universe, mysteries of biology are the most challenging. Biology may well be the topic of the century. An integrative approach involving all the science fields is mandatory.

Caroline dijo...

Systems biology is a term used to describe a number of trends in bioscience research, and a movement which draws on those trends. Proponents describe systems biology as a biology-based inter-disciplinary study field that focuses on complex interactions in biological systems, claiming that it uses a new perspective (holism instead of reduction). Particularly from year 2000 onwards, the term is used widely in the biosciences, and in a variety of contexts. An often stated ambition of systems biology is the modeling and discovery of emergent properties, properties of a system whose theoretical description is only possible using techniques which fall under the remit of systems biology. I am a college sophomore with a dual major in Physics and Mathematics @ University of California, Santa Barbara. By the way, i came across these excellent physics flash cards. Its also a great initiative by the FunnelBrain team. Amazing!!

Kara dijo...

Hi everyone,

Just want to let you know that there is a upcoming conference about Synthetic biology held by Wyss Institute in April. If you are interested, check out


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