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Mathematical Methods for Investigating the Hepatitis C Virus

Press Release No. 114/2011
19 April 2011
3 million euros from the European Commission to fund the international “PathoSys” project
Hcv Replication Cycle 160x200
Schematic drawing of the hepatitis C virus lifecycle. After entry into the cell, the viral RNA genome is translated to about a dozen viral proteins. These participate in the production and assembly of new viral particles, which are then released from the host cell and can infect other cells.

An international research project coordinated at Heidelberg University revolves around the development of new mathematical methods for investigating the interaction between virus and host cell as exemplified by the hepatitis C virus. The integrated “PathoSys” project assembles ten research groups of virologists, systems biologists, mathematicians, computer scientists, bioinformaticians and molecular biologists from Germany, France, Cyprus, Israel, Turkey and Russia. The European Union will provide funding in the amount of 3 million euros for “PathoSys” over a period of four years. The project is being coordinated by Prof. Dr. Roland Eils and Dr. Lars Kaderali of the Bioquant Research Centre.

“Our main aim is to use a systems biology approach to develop new procedures for investigating dynamic processes,” says Dr. Kaderali. Systems biology combines quantitative methods from molecular biology with instruments taken from mathematics, computer science and systems sciences to create an overall picture of the dynamic processes of life. In “PathoSys” the project partners intend to investigate the complex interrelations between virus and host cell at a systems-biological level as exemplified by the hepatitis C virus. The ultimate aim is to come up with mathematical algorithms and models that can contribute to a broader understanding of these biological processes.

“PathoSys” is a collaborative venture involving a total of eight academic and two industrial partners. Alongside institutions from France, Cyprus, Israel and Turkey, the consortium also encompasses one industrial and two academic partners in Russia, the reason being that the EU’s call for applications explicitly aims at strengthening cooperation with Russia in the field of systems biology. In March 2012 the project partners will be organising a scientific conference in St. Petersburg designed to deepen future collaboration.

Of the monies from the European Union, just under a million euros will go to Heidelberg University, with the University Hospital receiving approx. 450,000 euros in addition. The funding from the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission ends on 30 September 2014. From the Bioquant Research Centre, Dr. Karl Rohr is also involved in the project (alongside Professor Eils and Dr. Kaderali), as are Prof. Dr. Ralf Bartenschlager and Dr. Marco Binder of the molecular virology department of the University Hospital.

For more information on “PathoSys”, go to

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