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11 February 2011

EU initiative in research into living cancer cells in time and space

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New technology has made it possible to examine living cells in a microscope while at the same time collecting information that can be used to create mathematical models of the cells’ behaviour – a new field of research known as ‘systems microscopy’

Scientists at the Center for Biosciences (CB), Karolinska Institutet, are now to coordinate a multidisciplinary initiative to develop this field further, which is hoped to revolutionise biomedical research. The project is one of two international research networks financed by the EU that will be based at the centre.

The two projects – Systems Microscopy Network of Excellence (NoE) and Systems Biology of Colorectal Cancer (SYSCOL) – are being financed through the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme, and will each receive EUR 12 million for five years. Both projects focus on cancer research and will take advantage of research facilities containing state of the art technology that are currently being established at the Center for Biosciences.

Systems Microscopy NoE will involve around 60 scientists from seven European universities and one company. The aim of the project is to create mathematical models of biological processes in time and space, in a close collaboration between scientists in biomedicine and mathematicians. The models can then be tested experimentally. The research methods that currently dominate the life sciences, such as genomics and proteomics, provide snapshots of the biological conditions prevalent at the precise moment of sampling. Biological processes are, however, the result of more than one such moment, and that is what the scientists will now be able to examine.


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