||Saturday, May 18th 2013 |
The Centre for Medical Systems Biology (CMSB) is a joint activity of Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden University, Free University Medical Center and Free University Amsterdam, Erasmus MC Rotterdam and TNO Leiden, aiming to apply innovative multidisciplinary genomics and bioinformatics approaches to improve diagnosis, therapy and prevention of common and rare diseases.
The CMSB focus lies on common diseases: Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, depression, diabetes, migraine, immune disorders and cancer. Typically these diseases are chronic, variable in severity and caused by a combination of multiple genes in combination with lifestyle and environmental factors. Often, notably in older people, these diseases are connected. At first glance, there seems to be no relationship between, for example, depression and migraine, diabetes and cancer, or high cholesterol and Alzheimer. Yet, scientists increasingly find hidden connections. The primary cause, the onset and the ultimate clinical symptoms may be different, but along the way similar disruptions of the system occur. This suggests the existence of biological master switches in the human body. Then, our individual variation in the settings of these switches is likely to determine different clinical outcomes. Revealing these master switches will thus yield multiple opportunities for therapy and prevention.
The Centre's mission is to help improve the care for patients suffering from common diseases. Therefore, we aim to elucidate the connectivity between common diseases by 1) identifying genes and biological pathways involved in onset and severity of disease, 2) detecting common as well as specific determinants in these pathways, and 3) developing new and improving existing methods for diagnosis and prognosis as a basis for new treatments and better prevention. In this development we will also team up with biotechnology companies and the pharmaceutical industry and contribute in many other ways to the translational valorisation of biomedical research for the benefit of society. Finally, since rare diseases often present unique model systems for well-defined elements of common disease, the scope of CMSB also includes the study of rare disease to optimise the chance of developing specific, targeted therapies.
The research programme focuses on Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, depression, migraine and the metabolic syndrome. Combining advanced DNA analysis, epidemiology and systems biology is the central key to establish genetic and molecular relationships between these apparently diverse disorders. Furthermore, the platform "immunity" will focus on the connecting role of abnormal immunity in these five diseases and immune-related cancer. Underpinning these thematic platforms, a horizontal, enabling platform operates called DIAL, (i.e. Data Integration, Analysis and Logistics), develops and implements the bioinformatics and biostatistical support tools. With the advent of high-throughput technologies and broadening of medical testing and screening, genomics has an ever-increasing impact on society. The societal aspects of genomics are subject of study in our MAG programme (Maatschappelijke Aspecten van Genomics), funded in the context of the research programme of the Centre for Society and Genomics (CSG).
The CMSB is a joint initiative of six institutions in 3 nearby cities: Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden University and TNO in Leiden, VU University Medical Center and Free University in Amsterdam, and Erasmus MC in Rotterdam. The Centre is directed by Professor Gertjan B. van Ommen, of the LUMC.
Past, present and future
The CMSB was conceived in 2003 and established in January 2004 as one of the four Genomic Centres of Excellence of the Netherlands Genomics Initiative (NGI). In 2008, in the second round of funding of NGI, CMSB was continued as one of the now twelve NGI key activities (see links). In parallel to NGI funding, CMSB in this stage also obtained a stronger in-house funding from the institutions, thus safeguarding a solid future anchoring of the CMSB's vision in the participating universities, medical centres and research institutes.
© 2003 - 2013 CMSB