Hot Topic: Systems Medicine, Disease Maps and the future of Systems Biology

What will Systems Biology look like in the future? Up to now, it has focussed on the development of standards, software tools and databases that enabled us to study the dynamics of physiological function mechanistically. However as these tools and technologies have matured, the focus of the systems biology research community has moved towards how they can best be interconnected and exploited to develop our understanding of health and disease across whole cells, tissues, organs, organisms. This version 2.0 of systems biology, will build on the existing technologies to create resources that are more intuitive, more accurate, more accessible and are easier to use for anyone engaged with research.

Disease maps describe the interactions and pathways that are perturbed from healthy physiological function in disease pathophysiology. The Disease Maps consortia, spearheaded by the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine, the Institut Curie and the European Institute for Systems Biology and Medicine, are developing rich resources to enable us to understand how healthy function is perturbed across different scales. These include from the molecular to the organismal, and that embed individually perturbed pathways in a wider intra- and inter-cellular network so that the systems and systemic impact can be more easily investigated [1].   Each disease topic is the focus of a community of clinical, laboratory and systems biology expertise and the consortia is organised as a community of communities with the following adopted principles:-

  • Central integration of in vivo and in vitro disease experts across diseases
  • Close integration of pathway mapping and modeling expertise
  • Regular sharing of best practice and expertise across diseases

The consortia embrace open access, standard formats, modularity, consistency of quality and best practices in the field. It is anticipated that this work will deliver resources that can support comprehensive programmes of systems medicine by including the following:

  • Dedicated trusted reference resources describing disease mechanisms that facilitate advanced data interpretation, hypothesis generation, and hypothesis prioritisation.
  • Tools for the study of co- and multi-morbidities, which can deliver refined biomarkers for improved clinical diagnostics.
  • Tools for the study of systems pharmacology that suggest drug repositioning and multi-drug intervention strategies.
  • Novel insights into disease subclassification supporting the development of next-generation disease ontologies.
  • Supporting the design and prototyping of new clinical decision-making strategies.

The Disease Maps consortia thus want to accelerate the development of Systems Biology 2.0 and the roadmap presented in this paper describes how it can be steered towards translational utility.

Comments by Steven Watterson (@systemsbiology), University of Ulster

[1]. Mazein A, Ostaszewski M, Kuperstein I, Watterson S, Le Novère N, Lefaudeux D, De Meulder B, Pellet J, Balaur I, Saqi M, Nogueira MM, He F, Parton A, Lemonnier N, Gawron P, Gebel S, Hainaut P, Ollert M, Dogrusoz U, Barillot E, Zinovyev A, Schneider R, Balling R and Auffray C (2018) Systems medicine disease maps: community-driven comprehensive representation of disease mechanisms, NPG Systems Biology and Applications 4:21. [PMID 29872544]

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One comment on “Hot Topic: Systems Medicine, Disease Maps and the future of Systems Biology
  1. […] Systems Medicine, Disease Maps and the future of Systems Biology […]

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