An international research consortium has developed the first computer model to include 3D in the representation of human metabolic processes.

To this end, the researchers integrated the three-dimensional structures of over 4,000 metabolic products, or metabolites as they are known, and nearly 13,000 proteins into an existing computer model. They also added an enormous volume of genetic and chemical information to the model on which the simulation runs. The name of this new computer-based tool, which has been made available to the biomedical research community recently, is Recon3D.

The researchers’ results on Recon3D appear in the journal Nature Biotechnology (“Recon3D enables a three-dimensional view of gene variation in human metabolism”).

The importance of scientific computer models continues to increase. They make the existing knowledge tangible and thereby help scientists to accurately formulate and work on targeted problems in research. To create such models, researchers analyse all the publications and databases they can find on a topic and feed this information into their model.

Human metabolism research is one example, as Prof. Ines Thiele, head of the Molecular Systems Physiology group at the LCSB of the University of Luxembourg and an ATTRACT fellow of the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), says: “For the predecessor of Recon3D, Recon 2, a large team of research groups in different fields aggregated an enormous volume of data on the genome, chemical metabolic activities and physiological properties of the human organism.” This data basis has now been considerably expanded yet again for Recon3D, Thiele reports.

Image Credit:   University of Luxembourg

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