NETWORK MEDICINE

February 4, 2020, 9:37 241

Network medicine is the application of network science towards identifying, preventing, and treating diseases. This field focuses on using network topology and network dynamics towards identifying diseases and developing medical drugs. Biological networks, such as protein-protein interactions and metabolic pathways, are utilized by network medicine. Disease networks, which map relationships between diseases and biological factors, also play an important role in the field. Epidemiology is extensively studied using network science as well; social networks and transportation networks are used to model the spreading of disease across populations. Network medicine is a medically focused area of systems biology.
The dominant paradigm in drug discovery is the concept of designing maximally selective ligands to act on individual drug targets. However, many effective drugs act via modulation of multiple proteins rather than single targets.  This new appreciation of the role of polypharmacology has significant implications for tackling the two major sources of attrition in drug development--efficacy and toxicity. Integrating network biology and polypharmacology holds the promise of expanding the current opportunity space for druggable targets. Advances in these areas are creating the foundation of the next paradigm in drug discovery: network pharmacology. 

 

The term "network medicine" was coined and popularized in a scientific article by Albert-László Barabási called "Network Medicine – From Obesity to the "Diseasome", published in The New England Journal of Medicine, in 2007. Barabási states that biological systems, similarly to social and technological systems, contain many components that are connected in complicated relationships but are organized by simple principles. Three key networks for understanding human disease are the metabolic network, the disease network, and the social network. The network medicine is based on the idea that understanding complexity of gene regulation, metabolic reactions, and protein-protein interactions and that representing these as complex networks will shed light on the causes and mechanisms of diseases. It is possible, for example, to infer a bipartite graph representing the connections of diseases to their associated genes using the OMIM database.The projection of the diseases, called the human disease network (HDN), is a network of diseases connected to each other if they share a common gene.

References:
1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_medicine
2. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fgene.2019.00294/full
 

 

By Babayeva N.