Understanding genes better for more targeted treatments


Each individual has a very personal risk of developing a so-called complex disease, such as diabetes, depression or cancer. This risk is partly influenced by genetic variants, i.e. letters present in the DNA sequence which differ from one person to another. Two studies demonstrate how these variants can disrupt genes networks in various body tissues. The results are to be discovered in the journals "Nature Methods" and "PLOS Computational Biology."

Daniel Marbach, David Lamparter and Prof. Sven Bergmann, researchers at the Computational Biology Department (DBC) of the Faculty of Biology and Medicine (FBM) and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), in collaboration with Zoltán Kutalik (CHUV IUMSP-SIB), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as well as the University of Harvard have managed to map accurately gene networks for approximately 400 different types of human cells and tissues - the largest collection to date - from immune cells to brain tissues, whereas until now the studies were limited to one or a few tissues.

Towards more effective treatments

"Our work shows that accurate maps of gene networks for various tissues are crucial to understand better the start and progression of diseases, an essential factor for developing more effective and more targeted treatments, with fewer side effects for the patient", concludes Prof. Sven Bergmann, head of the Computational Biology Group at DBC.

To know more: 

Article published in « Nature Methods » 
Article published in « PLOS Computational Biology » 
Press release of the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB) 



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