A team of researchers have created what they call a "Google Map" to the human metabolism. It is the most expansive virtual model of the human metabolism to date and it's called Recon 2.
The terms is for all the physical and chemical processes that go on in our body that converts food into energy. Metabolism plays a huge role in health and disease, and the biological modeling of our metabolism can help us predict how our bodies will respond to drugs.
Recon 2 is by far the most comprehensive model, and is an expansion of a prior model, Recon 1, which has been used in researching the molecular targets of cancer drugs and the affects of off target drugs.
Recon 2 could be used in identifying the metabolic pathways for drug delivery, which uses existing gene expression databases.
Recon 2 allows researchers to use this existing gene expression data and knowledge of the entire metabolic network to figure how certain drugs would affect specific metabolic pathways found to create the conditions for cancerous cell growth, for example. They could then conduct virtual experiments to see whether the drug can fix the metabolic imbalance causing the disease.
The map will show the finer details of certain metabolic reactions and gain more comprehensive perspective and find patterns and relationships among pathways and processes:
“This is essential to understanding where and how specific metabolic pathways go off track to create disease,” according to Bernhard Palsson, a professor of bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego. “It’s like having the coordinates of all the cars in town, but no street map. Without this tool, we don’t know why people are moving the way they are.