With the advancements in the “omics” technologies and the information technology, systems biology has become an important approach for biomarker discovery. These technologies allow faster and cheaper analyses of gene expression, protein interactions, signaling pathways, and metabolic mechanisms. In this era of functional genomics, thousands of molecular signals can be measured for further analysis and meaningful interpretations in clinical medicine. Various fields can be integrated in the systems biology studies.
Specifically, studies in genomics can be used to detect genetic differences between individuals. Studies in proteomics allow the assessment of proteins at a large-scale. Studies in metabolomics enable the profiling of small molecules for the better understanding of cellular processes. Studies in transcriptomics allow the quantitative measurement of mRNAs in different cells and tissues for the detection of gene expression patterns during various biological and pathological states of a tissue. Studies in epigenetics are helpful for understanding DNA methylation and the regulation of genetic activities. These basic scientific areas can be integrated into the systems biology approach for further translational studies to be applied in clinical medicine.
In the case of epilepsy, better antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are still needed for the prevention and control of the disease. The unbalanced reductionist approaches have been found to ignore the complexity of the disease itself as well as the mechanisms of the drug resistance (Margineanu, 2013). Integrative and systems biology strategies are necessary for understanding the interactive networks in physiological, pathological, and pharmacological processes.
In another example, more accurate diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers are needed for better clinical care of sepsis. However, traditional markers have been found inadequate to meet the goal. Systems biology-based approaches that integrate various “omics” technologies have been suggested to provide better ways for the identification of biomarkers in sepsis, including disease pathways (Skibsted et al., 2013). Such systems-based biomarkers may support the discovery of better treatment targets.
Margineanu DG. Systems biology, complexity, and the impact on antiepileptic drug discovery. Epilepsy Behav. 2013 Sep 30. doi:pii: S1525-5050(13)00434-4.10.1016/j.yebeh.2013.08.029.
Skibsted S, Bhasin MK, Aird WC, Shapiro NI. Bench-to-bedside review: Future novel diagnostics for sepsis – a systems biology approach. Crit Care. 2013 Oct 4;17(5):231.