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Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Dec;94(6):651-8. doi: 10.1038/clpt.2013.176. Epub 2013 Sep 11.

Network-based approaches in drug discovery and early development.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, USA.


Identification of novel targets is a critical first step in the drug discovery and development process. Most diseases such as cancer, metabolic disorders, and neurological disorders are complex, and their pathogenesis involves multiple genetic and environmental factors. Finding a viable drug target-drug combination with high potential for yielding clinical success within the efficacy-toxicity spectrum is extremely challenging. Many examples are now available in which network-based approaches show potential for the identification of novel targets and for the repositioning of established targets. The objective of this article is to highlight network approaches for identifying novel targets with greater chances of gaining approved drugs with maximal efficacy and minimal side effects. Further enhancement of these approaches may emerge from effectively integrating computational systems biology with pharmacodynamic systems analysis. Coupling genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics databases with systems pharmacology modeling may aid in the development of disease-specific networks that can be further used to build confidence in target identification.

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