Professor John Tyson says he and other biologists want to know how jumbles of molecules can figure out how a cell should respond to its environment to survive, grow and reproduce.
"So we do what any good engineer would do," he said. "We create a mathematical model of the components and their interactions, and let the computer work out the details.
Tyson said scientists still do not have an engineer's understanding of normal mammalian cell proliferation and of what goes wrong in cancer cells.
"Cancer treatment is still a matter of cutting out, blasting, or poisoning cancer cells -- and any normal cells that get in the way," he said. "We could be more subtle and perhaps more effective in treating cancers if we had a systematic insider's understanding of the molecular networks that control cell growth, division and death, and an ability to manipulate this control system with a new array of drugs and procedures."
Tyson presented his research Sunday in San Diego during a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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