Multi-target therapeutics: when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts

Drug Discov Today. 2007 Jan;12(1-2):34-42. doi: 10.1016/j.drudis.2006.11.008. Epub 2006 Nov 28.


Drugs designed to act against individual molecular targets cannot usually combat multigenic diseases such as cancer, or diseases that affect multiple tissues or cell types such as diabetes and immunoinflammatory disorders. Combination drugs that impact multiple targets simultaneously are better at controlling complex disease systems, are less prone to drug resistance and are the standard of care in many important therapeutic areas. The combination drugs currently employed are primarily of rational design, but the increased efficacy they provide justifies in vitro discovery efforts for identifying novel multi-target mechanisms. In this review, we discuss the biological rationale for combination therapeutics, review some existing combination drugs and present a systematic approach to identify interactions between molecular pathways that could be leveraged for therapeutic benefit.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Drug Design*
  • Drug Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological


  • Drug Combinations