System biology: A new approach in cancer research

Ambuj Mishra1, Deepika Bhaskar1, Rajdeep Deb1, Poonam Yadav1, Amisha Mishra2, Sonal Srivastava1
1Department of Biotechnology, Institute of Biomedical Education and Research, Mangalayatan University, Beswan, Aligarh, India.
2Department of Biotechnology, Dayanand Academy of Management Science, Kanpur, India.


As systems biology is emerging as a new promising field, it is getting increasingly clear that it will catalyze fundamental changes in the future of health care. Cancer is now not only regarded as a highly heterogeneous pathology with respect to cell type and tissue origin but also as a disease involving deregulation of multiple pathways governing fundamental cell processes network such as death, proliferation, differentiation and migration. Thus the implications for cancer research and ultimately for cancer therapy has to be strong. Diagnosis should not be targeted to single specific molecules, but to altered states of the network. Tumour cells differ from normal cells in a number of mutations in a limited number of genes or in the DNA that controls their expression level. Again, the response of the tumor to any therapy is determined by many processes at the same time, such as pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, drug metabolism, drug transport to the target and interaction with the cellular biochemical network, including cellular defense. Hence for a heterogeneous, multifactorial disease such as cancer, the networks of different individuals with different polymorphisms will be affected differently by similar tumors and they will respond differently to the same drugs i.e. personalized medicines may work. Thus the emerging fields of systems biology offer exciting and promising advances toward predictive, preventative, and personalized medicine which requires new global technologies for genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and phenotyping as well. Finally we must have access to biological samples from a large number of normal and diseased subjects to begin the global correlative studies that will establish the foundation of a framework of predictive medicine against cancer. A System Biology approach is gaining importance in understanding of cell-cell signaling and hence cancer therapy and treatment is a promising outcome. Read more…

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