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PLoS Comput Biol. 2008 Apr 25;4(4):e1000014. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000014.

Translational systems biology of inflammation.

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Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America.


Inflammation is a complex, multi-scale biologic response to stress that is also required for repair and regeneration after injury. Despite the repository of detailed data about the cellular and molecular processes involved in inflammation, including some understanding of its pathophysiology, little progress has been made in treating the severe inflammatory syndrome of sepsis. To address the gap between basic science knowledge and therapy for sepsis, a community of biologists and physicians is using systems biology approaches in hopes of yielding basic insights into the biology of inflammation. "Systems biology" is a discipline that combines experimental discovery with mathematical modeling to aid in the understanding of the dynamic global organization and function of a biologic system (cell to organ to organism). We propose the term translational systems biology for the application of similar tools and engineering principles to biologic systems with the primary goal of optimizing clinical practice. We describe the efforts to use translational systems biology to develop an integrated framework to gain insight into the problem of acute inflammation. Progress in understanding inflammation using translational systems biology tools highlights the promise of this multidisciplinary field. Future advances in understanding complex medical problems are highly dependent on methodological advances and integration of the computational systems biology community with biologists and clinicians.

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