London: An international consortium of university researchers has produced the most comprehensive virtual reconstruction of human metabolism to date.Scientists could use the model, known as Recon 2, to identify causes of and new treatments for diseases like cancer, diabetes and even psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.Each person`s metabolism, which represents the conversion of food sources into energy and the assembly of molecules, is determined by genetics, environment and nutrition.The new model is based on earlier pioneering work by researchers at the University of California, San Diego."Recon 2 allows biomedical researchers to study the human metabolic network with more precision than was ever previously possible. This is essential to understanding where and how specific metabolic pathways go off track to create disease," said Bernhard Palsson, Galletti Professor of Bioengineering at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.Palsson likened Recon 2 to Google mapping for its ability to merge complex details into a single, interactive map. For example, researchers looking at how metabolism sets the stage for cancerous tumor growth could zoom in on the "map" for finely detailed images of individual metabolic reactions or zoom out to look at patterns and relationships among pathways or different sectors of metabolism.And just as Google maps brings together a broad set of data - such as images, addresses, streets and traffic flow - into an easily navigated tool, Recon 2 pulls together a vast compendium of data from published literature and existing models of metabolic processes.
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