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Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2007 Mar;6(3):202-10. Epub 2007 Feb 23.

A robustness-based approach to systems-oriented drug design.

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  • 1Sony Computer Science Laboratories Inc., 3-14-13 Higashi-Gotanda, Shinagawa, Tokyo 141-0022, Japan.


Many potential drugs that specifically target a particular protein considered to underlie a given disease have been found to be less effective than hoped, or to cause significant side effects. The intrinsic robustness of living systems against various perturbations is a key factor that prevents such compounds from being successful. By studying complex network systems and reformulating control and communication theories that are well established in engineering, a theoretical foundation for a systems-oriented approach to more effectively control the robustness of living systems, particularly at the cellular level, could be developed. Here, I use examples that are based on existing drugs to illustrate the concept of robustness, and then discuss how a greater consideration of the importance of robustness could influence the design of new drugs that will be intended to control complex systems.

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