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Mol Imaging Biol. 2003 Sep-Oct;5(5):312-25.

NanoSystems biology.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


Systems biology is an approach in which the digital information of the genome, acted upon by environmental cues, generates the many molecular signatures of gene and protein expression, as well as other, more phenomenological experimental observations. These data may be integrated together to form a testable hypothesis of how a biological organism functions as a system. The central components of systems biology are genetically programmed networks (circuits) within cells and networks of cells. These components establish the organization and function of individual cells and tissues in response to environmental signals such as cell-to-cell communication within organ systems and whole organisms. Within this context, disease is considered as a genetic or environmental reprogramming of cells to gain or lose specific functions that are characteristics of disease. This paper is a combination of three tutorials with an outlined series of technologies, including microfluidics, nanotechnologies, and molecular imaging methods, and we describe how their development should be driven by the needs of systems biology. We also discuss how these technologies can enable a systems biology approach through a pathway from single cells to mouse models of disease and finally to patients. Within this technology base are approaches to develop, use and test molecules as probes that target proteins, DNA and mRNA to test systems biology models, as well as provide molecular diagnostics and molecular therapeutics within a systems biology framework.

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