Inside out: looking within our bodies improves drug design

Researchers from the IMIM Systems Pharmacology Research Group have analyzed 566 drugs and their endogenous ligands. The results help predict whether a drug may have undesired side effects.

The Systems Pharmacology group of GRIB has established for the first time a quantitative relationship between the affinities of the endogenous metabolites and of the drugs for the same proteins. Read the full interview to Jordi Mestres, head of this group, at the last edition of el·lipse magazine.

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Work from Mar Albà's group on the evolution of new genes featured in Nature News

Scientists long assumed that new genes appear when evolution tinkers with old ones. It turns out that natural selection is much more creative.  

Evolutionary genomicist Mar Albà, head of the Evolutionary Genomics Group of GRIB, had shown that the younger a gene is, evolutionarily speaking, the faster it tends to evolve. She speculated that this might be because the molecules encoded by younger genes are less polished and need more tuning, and that this could be a consequence of the genes having arisen de novo - they were not tied to a previous function as tightly as those that had evolved from older genes. Both Albà and Begun recall that it was challenging to publish their early work on the topic. "There was a lot of scepticism," says Albà. "It's amazing how things have changed."  

Read the article at Nature News 

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Thesis lecture of Lara Nonell on November, 19th at 11:00: "New approaches in omics data modelling"

Next tuesday, 19th of November, at 11:00 AM, Lara Nonell, member of the Computational Human Biology Group of GRIB will defense her thesis "New approaches in omics data modelling" at the Ramón y Cajal room on the ground floor of PRBB. You are all invited to this event.

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Thesis lecture of José Jiménez on October 24th: "Machine learning in structural biology and chemoinformatics"

Next thursday, 24th of October at 10:00 AM, José Jiménez, member of the Computational Science Group of GRIB will defense his thesis "Machine learning in structural biology and chemoinformatics" at the Xipre room on the first floor of PRBB. You are all invited to this event.

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Our own bodies hold the key to designing safer drugs

The study was published in the prestigious journal Drug Discovery Today, which also dedicated the Editorial to it, and it has been reviewed by Nature Reviews Drug Discovery.

Based on a study of 566 drugs that interact with 129 different proteins, researchers from the Systems Pharmacology Group, in collaboration with researchers from the University of New Mexico, in the United States, realised that 71% of drugs have stronger affinities for their target proteins than those of the small internal molecules responsible for regulating their functions. Surprisingly, this is the first time that the affinities of endogenous ligands and drugs for the same proteins have been quantified.

"To date, no one had ever considered the idea that a drug's minimum interaction with its target protein should be similar to the affinity shown by the body's own small molecule. We have discovered that our own molecules, naturally optimised by evolution, provide the frame of reference necessary for efficiently designing more effective and safer drugs", explains Jordi Mestres, head of the Systems Pharmacology group.

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Gabriel Santpere galardonado con el Programa de Becas de La Caixa

Gabriel Santpere, investigador del GRIB en el area de Genómica, ha ganado una Ayuda a Proyectos de Investigación e Innovación de Excelencia Nacionales e Internacionales de La Caixa. El proyecto galardonado lleva por título "¿Qué mutaciones genéticas son responsables de las especializaciones del cerebro humano?" y pretende proporcionar conocimientos fundamentales sobre la evolución, desarrollo y funcionalidad del cerebro, humano y de los primates, en condiciones de salud y enfermedad. 

La Caixa ha galardonado en esta edición un total de 79 proyectos de centros de investigación de España y Portugal con una dotación global de 28 millones de euros. La entrega de galardones estuvo presidida por Isidre Fainé, presidente de la Fundación Bancaria "la Caixa"; Jaume Giró, director general de la Fundación Bancaria "la Caixa"; Javier Solana, miembro del Patronato y del Consejo Asesor de Expertos en Investigación de la Fundación Bancaria "la Caixa", y Pedro Duque, ministro de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades.

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eTRANSAFE 6th Consortium Meeting

The 6th eTRANSAFE Consortium Meeting took place in Barcelona on the 5th and 6th June 2019. The eTRANSAFE Consortium members gathered for two days to discuss the achievements and next steps of the project. 

The first day of the meeting was structured in workshops around specific topics of interest such as DILI models, other one addressed the clinical data provision and the terminology mapping work, a workshop on Data sharing experiences and the last workshop focused on the identification of the opportunities for translational research. The second day started with a summary of the workshops held on the first day, followed by a discussion on the status and path forward of consortium technical developments. A successful demo on the first iteration of the system was performed.

The meeting ended with the vision from the eTRANSAFE Scientific Advisory Board members: Hennicke Kamp, Jean-Marc Vidal, José Vicente Castell and the recently appointed member Stéphane Dhalluin. Their contributions were valuable for the progress of the project, also to properly prepare the forthcoming IMI mid-term review planned for Q1 2020.

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Identifican patrones en tuits en español que pueden indicar signos de depresión

El estudio del grupo de Investigación en Informática Biomédica Integrada ha analizado los patrones lingüísticos de comportamiento de los usuarios de Twitter que sufren depresión en comparación con la población general de tuiteros.

Investigadores del Grupo de Informática Biomédica Integrada del GRIB han identificado las características y patrones de comportamiento en los tuits que pueden indicar signos de depresión. El estudio del grupo de Investigación en Informática Biomédica Integrada, publicado en el Journal of Medical Internet Research, es el primero de este tipo en el que se analizan los tuits en lengua española.

El estudio coordinado por Ferran Sanz, ha analizado los patrones lingüísticos y las características de comportamiento de los usuarios de Twitter que sufren depresión en comparación con la población general de tuiteros. "Hemos observado que los usuarios con depresión son más activos en Twitter por la noche y los fines de semana respecto a otros usuarios", detalla Angela Leis, investigadora predoctoral y primera autora del trabajo. Esto podría explicarse como resultado del insomnio, uno de los síntomas más frecuentes de la depresión. Además, añade que "suelen interaccionar menos con otros usuarios, retuiteando menos frecuentemente y con textos más cortos". Asimismo, "su vocabulario se caracteriza por una mayor atención en sí mismos, con un estilo de escritura menos variado en el que suelen aparecer palabras de ideación suicida, con abundancia de palabras de carácter negativo, y son frecuentes emociones como tristeza, enojo y repulsión".

Leer noticia aquí

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A webserver to study the protein networks perturbed in diseases

Researchers from the UPF, IMIM and UVIC have developed the website GUILDify to study the molecular environment of the proteins involved in diseases. The website is a promising tool to study the molecular mechanisms underlying a disease, to understand the relationships between two diseases and to propose potential drugs for their treatment.

Quim Aguirre, PhD student at the Structural Bioinformatics Group (SBI) of GRIB, behind this project, tells us all about it in an article on the El·lipse website.

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A conference to promote women's research in computational biology. Abstract submission deadline: July 1st, 2019!!

BSC, UPC and the GRIB (IMIM-UPF) organize the Advances in Computational Biology conference to be held November 28-29 in La Pedrera (Barcelona).

The first Advances in Computational Biology conference will bring together researchers working on systems biology, omics technologies, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing (HPC) with applications to biology from both the public and the private sectors. The conference will be held November 28-29 in La Pedrera (Barcelona). Mar Albà, head of the Evolutionary genomics group of GRIB is member of the organizing committee and Laura I. Furlong, head of the Integrative Bioinformatics group of GRIB is member of the scientific committee of the event.

Maria Jose Rementeria, Social Link Analytics group leader at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) and one of the organizers, states: "One of the main purposes of the conference is to visualize and promote the research done by women scientists and for this reason all presenters will be women, although the conference is open to everyone. We want to create a space to foster collaborations between scientists, providing a unique opportunity to share ideas and build research networks".

The programme will include poster and oral presentations, as well as keynotes from leading scientists in the computational biology and HPC fields. The confirmed keynote speakers are Christine Orengo, group leader of Orengo Group at University College London, Natasa Przulj, group leader of the Life Sciences - Integrative Computational Network Biology at the BSC and Marie-Christine Sawley, director of the Exascale Lab at Intel.

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