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Fundamental research

01 - 12 - 2017

Mice pave the way to “big data” of personalized medicine

The vast amount of data obtained in mice on the link between genetics, environment and health or illness are now exploitable by new computer tools.

 

Health and disease depend on the interaction between the genetic makeup of each individual (the genome) and its environment. This highly complex interaction makes each individual a unique case. This has given birth to the notion of personalized medicine.

 

To gravitate towards this type of medicine, the infinitely complex relationships between genetics, environment and health or disease must be understood.

 

For this purpose hundreds of research groups have studied for decades a mouse population called BXD whose genome is well known. By studying these animals and by changing their environment, for example food, researchers linked the genes and their expression (DNA, RNA, proteins, metabolites) to the constitution of the animals also called phenome. This phenome includes hair color and size, but also health and disease.

 

 

Today, EPFL researchers have updated online computer analysis tools that will allow researchers from around the world to exploit the "big data" that represent the hundreds of millions of data from these works in the mouse .

 

This "toolbox" for example has already discovered the link between an Rpl26 protein and body weight.

 

The quality of the data from the BXD mouse makes it possible to extrapolate the data to other species and to the human, in a very robust manner.

 

The next step, which promises to be much more complex, will be to work not with genetically identical mouse data, but with those of all different patients to finally open the door to personalized medicine.