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IBM, Lynx and ISB team on immunity research

IBM, Lynx Therapeutics and the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) are collaborating on a systems biology project to explore how human immune system cells react to foreign microbes such as infectious agents that cause disease.

The ISB will send macrophage analysis and data to Lynx, which will use its Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing (MPSS), technology to provide gene expression profiles of the immune system cells.

IBM will provide middleware to manage, integrate and analyse data, but the company also is contributing algorithms it already has developed and will work on new algorithms as the project develops, said Gustavo Stolovitzky, manager of the functional genomics and systems biology group at IBM Research.

In the long term, the research could lead to genetic drug targets. Well before then, though, Stolovitzky said that the collaborative aspects of the project make it an exciting turn in systems biology.

Systems biology is an emerging, cross-disciplinary field that brings together different types of biological information - DNA, protein interactions, cells, tissues - and considers how they work together as a whole.

Systems biology involves biologists, geneticists, computer scientists and mathematicians, among others, with their areas of expertise and disparate data.

Using a computational infrastructure, which in the case of this project involves IBM and Lynx software and technologies, those in systems biology develop computational tools to model and integrate data.

Nancy Weil writes for IDG News Service


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