Multiscale mechanistic modeling in pharmaceutical research and development

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012;736:543-61. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4419-7210-1_32.


Discontinuation of drug development projects due to lack of efficacy or adverse events is one of the main cost drivers in pharmaceutical research and development (R&D). Investments have to be written-off and contribute to the total costs of a successful drug candidate receiving marketing authorization and allowing return on invest. A vital risk for pharmaceutical innovator companies is late stage clinical failure since costs for individual clinical trials may exceed the one billion Euro threshold. To guide investment decisions and to safeguard maximum medical benefit and safety for patients recruited in clinical trials, it is therefore essential to understand the clinical consequences of all information and data generated. The complexity of the physiological and pathophysiological processes and the sheer amount of information available overcharge the mental capacity of any human being and prevent a prediction of the success in clinical development. A rigorous integration of knowledge, assumption, and experimental data into computational models promises a significant improvement of the rationalization of decision making in pharmaceutical industry. We here give an overview of the current status of modeling and simulation in pharmaceutical R&D and outline the perspectives of more recent developments in mechanistic modeling. Specific modeling approaches for different biological scales ranging from intracellular processes to whole organism physiology are introduced and an example for integrative multiscale modeling of therapeutic efficiency in clinical oncology trials is showcased.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Drug Industry / economics
  • Drug Industry / trends
  • Drug Therapy / economics
  • Drug Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Models, Economic*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / economics
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / economics*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Research / economics*
  • Research / trends


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations