Simplicity in Biology as a guiding principle: Designing drug cocktails for resistant microbes, cancer cells, and vaccines

Event Details

  • Date:
  • Venue: Charles Darwin Room - PRBB
  • Address: Doctor Aiguader, 80, 08003, Barcelona
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PRBB-CRG Session

by Philippe Cluzel, Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Biology, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA

Host: Thomas Surrey



There exist two distinct approaches to developing predictive models in biology. The first approach is to provide a detailed molecular description of cellular systems, which lets you identify the key mechanisms that underlie complex phenotypes. The second approach relies on the systems’ macroscopic properties rather than on the knowledge of specific molecular details. This strategy reveals the potential simplicity of cellular behaviors that are intractable at the molecular level. Using this latter strategy, we performed experiments on a wide range of systems as diverse as microbes, human cells, and mice. I will discuss a simple framework for optimizing the cocktail of drugs used to combat bacterial and cancer cells proliferation. Remarkably, we find that the same framework helps to determine the combinations of adjuvants that maximize DC vaccine potency.


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