Can an Engineer Fix an Immune System?–Rethinking theoretical biology

11 years 2 months ago
Can an Engineer Fix an Immune System?–Rethinking theoretical biology
In an instant classic paper (Lazebnik, in Cancer Cell 2(3); 2002: 179–182) biologist Yuri Lazebnik deplores the poor effectiveness of the approach adopted by biologists to understand and “fix” biological systems. Lazebnik suggests that to remedy this state of things biologist should take inspiration from the approach used by engineers to design, understand, and troubleshoot technological systems. In the present paper I substantiate Lazebnik’s analysis by concretely showing how to apply the engineering approach to biological problems. I use an actual example of electronic circuit troubleshooting to ground the thesis that, in engineering, the crucial phases of any non-trivial troubleshooting process are aimed at generating a mechanistic explanation of the functioning of the system, which makes extensive recourse to problem-driven qualitative reasoning possibly based on cognitive artifacts applied to systems that are known to have been designed for function. To show how to transla...
Claudio Mattiussi
Added 03 Mar 2013
Updated 04 Mar 2013
Type Journal
Year 2013
Where Acta Biotheoretica
Authors Claudio Mattiussi
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