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The study of disease is becoming increasingly innovative, moving from a model based on the study of a single therapeutic target (one element affected in disease) to one that encompasses the complexity of molecular interactions within a cell. More and more scientists believe that the development of new drugs calls for a broader and more realistic perspective that considers the elements responsible for regulating the biological processes that can trigger disease. This new in model is known as Network Medicine and is the main topic of debate in the ICREA Conference from 21 to 23 November in Barcelona.

Organized by the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), the National Institute of Bioinformatics and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), and supported by the International Center for Scientific Debate (ICSD) —an initiative of Biocat, with support from the "la Caixa" Welfare Projects— and Genoma España, the conference will bring together more than 150 scientists from around the world.

The event was inaugurated this morning by Dr. Montserrat Vendrell, Biocat CEO; Dr. Joan J. Guinovart, IRB Barcelona CEO; Dr. Jaume Bertranpetit, ICREA CEO; Dr. Francesc Subirada, BSC CEO, and Dr. Giulio Superti-Furga, CEO of the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Scinces.

According to Patrick Aloy, ICREA researcher at IRB Barcelona and organizer of the event, “in recent decades pharmaceutical companies have had limited success with the development of new drugs if you take into consideration the research effort devoted. One of the main reasons for this failure is that it has been overlooked that molecules rarely function alone but form part of complex networks of interactions within a cell”. The aim of the conference is to discuss the challenges posed by complex diseases and to encourage international collaboration on future medicine, which requires input from a wide range of scientific fields.  

The programme for the event includes talks by 20 scientists from academia and the private sector who are authorities in their fields. These speakers will present their impressions about new strategies and technological breakthroughs to trace the molecular networks associated with pathologies and to extract relevant information to further our understanding of disease. A significant part of the programme is devoted to how networks can be used as therapeutic targets and how to move from molecular interactions to clinical treatment. The conference will also address the application network medicine in personalized treatments, which aim to achieve patient-specific therapies. 

Related news (10/11/2011)

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