Systems biology and “omics” technologies for better drug discovery and outcome studies in cancer treatment

The multiple platforms using the “omics” technologies and the integration of systems biology approaches including both experimental and computational methods would support both drug target discovery and clinical outcome studies, especially in cancer treatment.

For instance, immunotherapies have become an important treatment strategy for cancer. Complex cellular and molecular networks are involved in both immune cells and tumor cells, as well as the interactions between the immune system and tumors, especially in the regulation of tumor growth by the immune system.

For better understanding of tumor immunosurveillance, it is necessary to apply “omics” and high-throughput molecular profiling technologies for the studies of lymphocyte infiltration, tumor destruction, and epitopes (Guhathakurta et al., 2013). These technologies include DNA and protein microarrays, biospecimen platforms, next-generation sequencing, and mass spectrometry.

For example, mRNA profiling can be applied to examine the extent of tumor infiltration of lymphocytes (Guhathakurta et al., 2013). Protein or peptide microarrays may be useful to evaluate the diversity of antibody responses. Next-generation sequencing may be applied to test the variety of T cell clones.

In addition, systems biology and computational methods such as data mining and algorithmic predictions can be useful for understanding immunogenicity and cancer immunotherapies. The data integration of across multiple platforms would allow the identification of antigens, biomarkers, and therapeutic targets. These methods would also enable faster and more efficient drug discovery process (Kraljevic et al., 2007).


Guhathakurta D, Sheikh NA, Meagher TC, Letarte S, Trager JB. Applications of systems biology in cancer immunotherapy: from target discovery to biomarkers of clinical outcome. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2013 Jul;6(4):387-401. doi:10.1586/17512433.2013.811814.


Kraljevic Pavelic S, Saban N. Evolving ‘-omics’ technologies in the drug development process. Expert Opin Drug Discov. 2007 Apr;2(4):431-6. doi:10.1517/17460441.2.4.431. PubMed PMID: 23484753.

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