An international consortium comprising around 100 scientists and mathematicians, including Australian researchers, has for the first time pooled shared knowledge and data to deliver a holistic understanding of the biological changes in a cell.


The findings of the Bacillus Systems Biology (BaSysBio) project, published in Science, will ultimately lead to the development of new drugs to protect people against antibiotic resistant infections, including golden staph.


Associate Professor Peter Lewis and his research group, from the University of Newcastle Faculty of Science and Information Technology, are the only Australian members of the international team, which has developed a complete understanding of the consequences of changes in a cell during disease development.


“It is very rare to have the opportunity to work on such a massive scale and with this range and depth of data sourced from numerous disciplines across the globe. For a researcher, this is literally a treasure trove,” Associate Professor Lewis said.


“Through this unique collaboration we have undertaken one of the most exhaustive studies ever conducted into how a whole biological system functions.


“We now have a complete picture on how a cell works overall, including how it behaves through the infection process.


“This understanding provides researchers with much greater knowledge to develop more effective and targeted drug treatments.”


Golden staph is one of the main infections the consortium is tracking.


The €12 million ($AUD20 million) BaSysBio project is a collaboration of 15 research organisations in Europe and the University of Newcastle.


Associate Professor Lewis received $486,000 from the National Health and Medical Research Council and $110,000 from the Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training for his team’s part in the project.