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Biology may not be so complex after all, Emory physicist finds
Biophysicist identifies parameters for biochemical networks, distills system behavior into simple equivalent dynamics


Centuries ago, scientists began reducing the physics of the universe into a few, key laws described by a handful of parameters. Such simple descriptions have remained elusive for complex biological systems – until now.

Emory University biophysicist Ilya Nemenman has identified parameters for several biochemical networks that distill the entire behavior of these systems into simple equivalent dynamics. The discovery may hold the potential to streamline the development of drugs and diagnostic tools, by simplifying the research models.

The resulting paper, now available online, will be published in the March issue of Physical Biology. . . .

Simplified models

Nemenman is now collaborating with Emory theoretical biologist Rustom Antia, to see if the discovery can shed light on the processes of immune cells. In particular, they are interested in the malfunction of certain immune receptors involved in most allergic reactions.

"We may be able to simplify the model for these immune receptors from about 3,000 steps to three steps," Nemenman says. . . . (Source)