Connecting the dots: applications of network medicine in pharmacology and disease

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Dec;94(6):659-69. doi: 10.1038/clpt.2013.168. Epub 2013 Aug 29.


In 2011, >2.5 million people died from only 15 causes in the United States. Ten of these involved complex or infectious diseases for which there is insufficient knowledge or treatment, such as heart disease, influenza, and Alzheimer's disease.(1) Complex diseases have been difficult to understand due to their multifarious genetic and molecular fingerprints, while certain infectious agents have evolved to elude treatment and prophylaxis. Network medicine provides a macroscopic approach to understanding and treating such illnesses. It integrates experimental data on gene, protein, and metabolic interactions with clinical knowledge of disease and pharmacology in order to extend the understanding of diseases and their treatments. The resulting "big picture" allows for the development of computational and mathematical methods to identify novel disease pathways and predict patient drug response, among others. In this review, we discuss recent advances in network medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Communicable Diseases / drug therapy
  • Communicable Diseases / genetics
  • Communicable Diseases / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Disease* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways*
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Pharmacology / methods*
  • Phenotype
  • Precision Medicine / methods
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / genetics
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism
  • Systems Biology*