From Systems Biology to Bioregulatory Systems Medicine

Since the early 2000s, scientific communities around the globe have been driven by the revolutionary insights garnered from the Human Genome Project, leading to the identification of more than 90% of the human genes. Despite having identified the majority of the human genetic code, it has remained impossible to explain sufficiently the function and behavior of the whole human organism and to identify the cause of many diseases. Advances in technologies for analyzing vast datasets of molecular and cellular networks and discoveries in systems biology have catalyzed new waves of thinking in medicine. These inquiries are propagating novel perspectives of human health, disease and patient treatment. Amongst these perspectives is systems theory as part of biomedicine, suggesting that the network of biological interactions within the patient plays a key role in human health.

Recently established initiatives aim to translate this network thinking into concepts practically relevant to medical treatment. These concepts are summarized under the term systems medicine; for example:

  • The Systems Biology Institute in Seattle, Washington has partnered with Ohio State University to co-find the P4 Medicine Institute (P4Mi), to help catalyze the transformation of medicine from a reactive mode to a system that is predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory.

  • In Europe, a multidisciplinary consortium of universities, systems biology institutes and pharmaceutical companies have joined forces under the patronage of the EU Commission to develop an implementation strategy for systems medicine. The Coordinating Action Systems Medicine (CASyM) roadmap aims to identify areas where a systems approach will effectively address clinical questions and provide solutions to clinical problems.

These initiatives adopt an integrative view of medicine that acknowledges the dynamic, interactive nature of nested physiological networks in order to understand pathology holistically.

Prior to the Bioregulatory Systems Medicine model , the concept of Bioregulatory Systems Medicine existed only as a loose set of scientific, clinical and empirical knowledge that supported the general ideas of systems medicine, and the relationship between the autoregulatory network, the role of inflammation in many diseases, and the dynamic nature of patient health.