The Manchester Centre for Integrative Systems Biology (MCISB) will pioneer an entirely new approach to biology which will not only help pharmaceutical companies to develop better drugs, but potentially reduce the time it takes to develop them.
The centre will pioneer the development of new technologies in Systems Biology - a new approach to genomics which uses complex computational and mathematical analysis to advance on traditional methods.
Professor Douglas Kell, Director of the MCISB, said: "The last fifty years of molecular biology have failed to discover the existence of a substantial number of genes in some very well studied organisms, which has hindered the development of the most effective medicines."
"Our aim is to develop the systems which will allow University scientists and pharmaceutical companies to understand how every gene in an organism works and reacts. This will provide them with the tools they need to develop safer and more effective medicines and will put Manchester on the map as one of the world centres for systems biology research."
The £6m grant has been awarded by The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and will be used to develop new methods of computational and mathematical analysis, validating these methods by testing them in yeast. These methods will then be used to create generic computational models with the potential to allow pharmaceutical companies to perform virtual trials of any medicine on any living organism.
"48% of genes in yeast are very similar to genes in humans. If we can understand how drugs react with yeast we can predict their reactions in humans too. This will allow pharmaceutical companies to develop medicines more efficiently because they will know in advance how people are going respond to them," says Professor Kell.
Professor Stephen Oliver, a senior member of the MCISB research team and a leading expert in the field of genomics and yeast research, said: "Systems biology will be a major trend in life sciences for at least the next decade and the award at this centre by the BBSRC puts Manchester in the vanguard of this movement."
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