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An integrative approach to cellular signalling and control processes: Bringing computational biology to the bench

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Taking computational biology to the bench

The Combio project aimed to bring computer models and simulations to the experimental community. Implementation of this technology is expected to aid research on the complex biological processes.

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Given their nature, reaching a full understanding of biological processes requires the development of advanced techniques for dissecting the complex interaction among genes and proteins. Being able to simulate and predict these interactions through computational approaches would be highly advantageous. The EU-funded Combio project brought together biologists and bioinformaticians to develop novel simulation approaches for studying biological systems. The major objective was to translate the current modelling and simulation methods to the bench, test experimental hypotheses and provide new insights into complex biological processes. Project members focused on two key processes: the P53-MDM2 regulatory network and spindle formation. The tumour suppressor p53 is among the best studied components of the cell cycle, often mutated or deregulated in cancer. The goal of the Combio project was to map the complex interactions of p53 under normal and stress conditions in various biological systems. To this aim, novel sophisticated experimental strategies were developed and combined with computational analysis and system modelling methods. Additionally, the self organisation process during spindle formation was studied whereby chromosomes get segregated during cell division. A database was created to store the available information on all the genes and proteins taking part in these two networks, including the knowledge acquired during the project as well as information from external sources. The Combio database was planned to be widely disseminated, aiding the research of the scientific community.

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