They have created a tool that helps understand multiple sclerosis better

They have created a tool that helps understand multiple sclerosis better

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An international research team has developed a computational biology tool, based on multi-level network analysis, to obtain an integrated view ofMultiple sclerosis. It is work that combines basic biology and applied medicine, and has made it possible to study genes, proteins, cells and parts of the brain, as well as the behavior of 328 patients and 90 healthy people. Research has tested the relationship between elements with different biological measures and has allowed improved knowledge and diagnosis of disease. The new tool could be used to investigate complex diseases such as Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia.

The new tool is the result of work led by… Pompeu Fabra Universitywith theSea Hospitalhe clinic, the Medical University of BerlinAnd universitiesOslo and Genoa. It was published in the journal Plos Computational Biology.

Research has confirmed that multiple sclerosis It is a complex disease that is not always easy to diagnose This covers a wide range of biological scales, from genes and proteins to cells and tissues, through to the entire organism.

This study is the first to simultaneously analyze data from very different levels, from genes to the entire organism. Jordi Garcia OjalvoThe UPF professor of systems biology explained that the work took into account five levels: genes, proteins, cells, parts of the brain, and behavior. He pointed out that the convergence of the elements of each level in each person determined the connection between them. Perturbations were introduced into the system and biologically related elements were identified.

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“In complex diseases, as in society, many things happen at the same time, and they happen at multiple scales and over time. As for humans, researchers and doctors, we would not be able to imagine this without this type of tool that allows us to distinguish and identify the elements that are related to each other.” Pablo Veloslada, associate professor in the Department of Medicine and Life Sciences at UPF. He is also director of the Neuroscience Program at the Hospital de la Mar Research Institute, head of the Neurology Service at Hospital de la Mar, and in charge of the study with García Ojalvo.

Thanks to the networks' tremendous ability to simplify complex data, the study was able to reveal the relationship between the MK03 protein – previously linked to multiple sclerosis – with the total number of T cells – immune system cells that help fight infection. It also showed the thickness of the retinal nerve fiber layer and a timed walking test – which measures the time it takes a patient to walk 7.5 meters as fast as possible.

Although the size of the study did not allow verification of the possibility of using this association as a biomarker for the diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis, it did allow To get an integrated view of this complex system It reveals the relationship between four biological metrics: proteins, cells, tissues and behaviour.

“In complex diseases, it is very difficult to get genetic biomarkers,” explained Garcia-Ojalvo, who stated that by studying combinations of genes, proteins and phenotypes, and seeing if they are related to each other, you can have an indication that the disease is present.

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In this sense Veloslada confirmed it With multiple sclerosis you have to build the puzzle Which the researchers more or less sense: “We're not blind, that's why we use systems biology that tells us the relevant relationships between elements so that the puzzle is coherent and relevant and we learn from it,” he commented and added that once you know how a disease works, you can decide how to deal with it. .

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