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Targeting and tinkering with interaction networks


Biological interaction networks have been in the scientific limelight for nearly a decade. Increasingly, the concept of network biology and its various applications are becoming more commonplace in the community. Recent years have seen networks move from pretty pictures with limited application to solid concepts that are increasingly used to understand the fundamentals of biology. They are no longer merely results of postgenome analysis projects, but are now the starting point of many of the most exciting new scientific developments. We discuss here recent progress in identifying and understanding interaction networks, new tools that use them in predictive ways in exciting areas of biology, and how they have become the focus of many efforts to study, design and tinker with biological systems, with applications in biomedicine, bioengineering, ecology and beyond.

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Figure 1: Targeting the interaction between MDM2 and p53.
Figure 2: Leukemia disease network to predict undesired off-target effects.
Figure 3: Ring-like patterns formed by programmed bacteria.


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We thank the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Foundation (BBVA Foundation) for organizing the Barcelona Biomed Conference “Targeting and Tinkering with Interaction Networks.” We also thank R. Weiss (Princeton University) for providing the images for Figure 3 and A. Zanzoni (IRB Barcelona) for help with Figure 1. P.A. acknowledges the financial support received from the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia through the grants PSE-010000-2007-1 and BIO2007-62426. We are both supported by the grant 3D-Repertoire from the European Commission under FP6 contract LSHG-CT-2005-512028.

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Russell, R., Aloy, P. Targeting and tinkering with interaction networks. Nat Chem Biol 4, 666–673 (2008).

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