Systems Medicine

Systems medicine is the application of systems biology approaches to medical research and medical practice.
Its objective is to integrate a variety of biological and medical data of organisms organization and clinical parameters, respectively, using the power of computational and mathematical modeling, to enable understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms, prognosis, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Importantly, the clinical needs should be the driver for the applications of systems biology approaches in medicine.

The High-throughput technologies for DNA sequencing and for analyses of transcriptomes, proteomes and metabolomes have provided the foundations for deciphering the functional and regulatory networks underlying the behavior of complex biological systems and relating them to health and disease states. Systems Medicine aims to shed new light on these interactions by integrating data from different disciplines into biological models with the power of computer science, mathematics or engineering for the holistic understanding of health and disease. In the biomedical sciences this trend is very apparent as research moves from a reductionist approach to a more complex approach that attempts to understand biology and pathophysiology in an integrative manner. However, despite major technological advances, there are still obstacles that separate Systems Medicine from medical applications. An important aspect will be the input of computational models to relevant clinical questions and to the discovery of effective biomarkers for disease progression and efficacy of treatment. These models and approaches will also address the multi-scale and complex nature of biological disease systems, at the molecular and cellular level, as well as at the level of tissues, organs and physiology/pathophysiology.

In addition, iterative systems approaches are starting to provide deeper insights into the mechanisms of human diseases, and to facilitate the development of better diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers. Systems approaches should have the power to identify and target multiple components of networks and pathways perturbed in diseases. This will, hopefully, enable medicine to become more predictive, personalized, preventive and participatory.