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Virtual Metabolic Humans

4 Jun 2020

Virtual Metabolic Humans

Harvey And Harvetta, Novel Computational Models For Personalised Medicine

Researchers, led by APC Principal Investigator Prof Ines Thiele based in NUI Galway, have developed whole-body computational models – Harvey and Harvetta –  which advance the concept of personalised medicine.

Harvey and Harvetta are virtual male and female human metabolic models, respectively, built from literature and data on human metabolism, anatomy and physiology as well as biochemical, metabolomic and proteomic data. They are anatomically interconnected as whole-body metabolic models, comprised of more than 80,000 biochemical reactions distributed over 26 organs and 6 types of blood cell. Moreover, they can be expanded to include gut microbial metabolism. These unique models enable generation of personalised whole-body metabolic models using an individual’s physiological, genomic, biochemical and microbiome data.

By combining and analysing information about our genome, with other clinical and diagnostic information, patterns can be identified that can help to determine our individual risk of developing disease, detect illness earlier and determine the most effective interventions to help improve health, be they medicines, lifestyle choices, or even simple changes in diet.

Harvey and Harvetta will usher in a new era for research into causal host-microbiome relationships and greatly facilitate the development of targeted dietary and microbial intervention strategies. These models could accelerate insights into pathways involved in sex-specific disease development and progression. Moreover, thanks to the ability to personalize the whole-body metabolic models with clinical, physiological, and omics data, they represent a significant step towards personalised, predictive modelling of dietary and drug interventions and drug toxicity, which lies at the heart of precision medicine.

The study is published in the prestigious journal Molecular Systems Biology.

Full reference:

Personalized whole-body models integrate metabolism, physiology, and the gut microbiome, Ines Thiele, Swagatika Sahoo, Almut Heinken, Johannes Hertel, Laurent Heirendt, Maike K. Aurich, Ronan M.T. Fleming, Mol Syst Biol (2020)16:e8982 https://doi.org/10.15252/msb.20198982

This study was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement No 757922), the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) through the ATTRACT programme (FNR/A12/01), the National Centre of Excellence in Research (NCER) on Parkinson’s disease, and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 668738

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