Human systems biology and metabolic modelling: a review - from disease metabolism to precision medicine

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In cell and molecular biology, metabolism is the only system that can be fully simulated at genome scale. Metabolic systems biology offers powerful abstraction tools to simulate all known metabolic reactions in a cell, therefore providing a snapshot that is close to its observable phenotype.

In this review, we cover the 15 years of human metabolic modelling. We show that, although the past five years have not experienced large improvements in the size of the gene and metabolite sets in human metabolic models, their accuracy is rapidly increasing. We also describe how condition-, tissue- and patient-specific metabolic models shed light on cell-specific changes occurring in the metabolic network, therefore predicting biomarkers of disease metabolism.
We finally discuss current challenges and future promising directions for this research field, including machine/deep learning and precision medicine.

In the omics era, profiling patients and biological processes from a multi-omic point of view is becoming more common and less expensive. Starting from multi-omic data collected from patients and N-of-1 trials where individual patients constitute different case-studies, methods for model-building and data integration are being used to generate patient-specific models. Coupled with state-of-the-art machine learning methods, this will allow characterizing each patient's disease phenotype and delivering precision medicine solutions, therefore leading to preventative medicine, reduced treatment, and in silico clinical trials.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBioMed Research International
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2019


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