The Joint Research Centre advocates for a “paradigm change” to in silico research methods!

For the second week in a row, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) – part of the European Commission’s EU Science Hub – has published an article about in silico medicine, this time calling for a paradigm change to in vitro and in silico research methods. 

The JRC has been conducting a study that combines multiple in silico and in vitro technologies to create robust evidence bases and mathematical models to analyse SARS-CoV-2's biological mechanisms. The models are being used to study how the virus enters the body, how it infects humans, and how it acts differently in individuals and population groups. The impact of various treatments is also being assessed. The models can go beyond typical research methodologies by incorporating multiple layers of knowledge, considering not only tissue, but also genetic, molecular, and cellular information. 

The utility and benefit of these models has allowed for the acceleration of SARS-CoV-2 treatment studies. The models are also more able to adapt to the rapid changes of the virus, and can respond quickly to different variants in a way that clinical trials cannot. Finally, they also allow for increased global collaboration, and pose many opportunities in terms of data sharing for more validated results. 

Indeed, the success of these methodologies – some of which were funded by Horizon 2020 – has led the JRC to make the strong statement that, ‘in our fight against this virus, we cannot rely only on traditionally used methodologies, which have had a very low translation rate and long timeline to develop therapeutics...The perspective that sees only animal and clinical studies at the centre of the cognitive process of a disease needs to change; it must include the integration of in silico (the mathematical modelling) and “in vitro (cell and tissue culture research and innovation) methods with all the knowledge streams from the entire biomedical and life science fields.” 

This statement, as well as the sheer number of in silico studies coming from the JRC, both demonstrate the increased awareness within the European Commission as well as underline the need for good in silico standards and regulations. 

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