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Dis Markers. 2010; 28(4): 199–207.
Published online Jun 9, 2010. doi:  10.3233/DMA-2010-0697
PMCID: PMC3021550
NIHMSID: NIHMS259366

Systems Biology and the Discovery of Diagnostic Biomarkers

Abstract

Systems biology is an approach to the science that views biology as an information science, studies biological systems as a whole and their interactions with the environment. This approach, for the reasons described here, has particular power in the search for informative diagnostic biomarkers of diseases because it focuses on the fundamental causes and keys on the identification and understanding of disease- perturbed molecular networks. In this review, we describe some recent developments that have used systems biology to address complex diseases – prion disease and drug induced liver injury- and use these as examples to illustrate the importance of understanding network structure and dynamics. The knowledge of network dynamics through in vitro experimental perturbation and modeling allows us to determine the state of the networks, to identify molecular correlates, and to derive new disease treatment approaches to reverse the pathology or prevent its progress into a more severe state through the manipulation of network states. This general approach, including diagnostics and therapeutics, is becoming known as systems medicine.

Keywords: Systems biology, biomarkers, systems medicine, prion disease, drug induced liver injury, microRNA, organ-specific proteins

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