The MultiMod project

The treatment of complex disease like allergy, obesity and cancer is complicated by variable response to medication. This causes both increased suffering and costs. Ideally, physicians should be able to routinely personalize medication based on a few diagnostic markers. Finding such markers is a formidable challenge. This depends on the large number of genes involved in complex diseases as well as considerable individual variations. We hypothesize that translational clinical studies based on high-throughput genomics, advanced computing and systems biology may help to identify markers for personalized medication in complex diseases. We organize disease-associated genes in networks that are analyzed in a top-down manner. First, modules of interacting genes with distinct biological functions are identified. Then the modules are dissected to find pathways and finally upstream genes with key regulatory functions. An important focus of this project is to develop these methods to form multi-layer modules that integrate information about disease-associated changes on the DNA, RNA and protein levels. Since these levels interact, studies of the different levels can be interactively used to cross-validate the modules. This involves both genetic and experimental studies, but the ultimate test of the modules will be if they can be used for clinical predictions. The project focuses on allergy as a model for complex diseases but the aim is to make the methods available for studies of other diseases. If successful, it may significantly contribute to the development of methods to personalize medication.