Biochemical simulation for dummies

Bioinformatics experts from the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and the European Media Laboratory, based in Germany, have joined forces to develop software for simulating biochemical networks.

The transatlantic project, dubbed COPASI (COmplex PAthway SImulator), marshals an arsenal of simulation and analysis methods said to put it ahead of comparable research programs available at present.

Pedro Mendes of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, and Ursula Kummer of the European Media Laboratory will head the project and COPASI will be based on software developed by the pair.

According to Mendes, the new software will enable experimental biochemists around the world to simulate complex metabolic processes in cells without taking the time to master the enormous mathematical and computing skills currently required.

‘This is a software, but it is really like a new technology,’ said Mendes. ‘I don’t need to know how an electron microscope works in order to use one. This software will open the door to thousands of new research possibilities that will greatly expand our knowledge of the cellular process.’

‘The future of biology is intimately tied to computational modelling and simulation. This project will emphasise this approach, as well as start the establishment of VBI as an internationally recognised bioinformatics institute’ said Bruno Sobral, director of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute.

The European Media Laboratory will be putting its biochemical database at the disposal of the COPASI project as well.

When fully developed, the software package will be made free of charge for scientists working in the academic sphere. Commercial users also may benefit by acquiring licenses to draw on its resources.