Acta Biotheoretica

, Volume 66, Issue 4, pp 345–365 | Cite as

Systems Biology, Systems Medicine, Systems Pharmacology: The What and The Why

  • Angélique StéphanouEmail author
  • Eric Fanchon
  • Pasquale F. Innominato
  • Annabelle Ballesta
Regular Article


Systems biology is today such a widespread discipline that it becomes difficult to propose a clear definition of what it really is. For some, it remains restricted to the genomic field. For many, it designates the integrated approach or the corpus of computational methods employed to handle the vast amount of biological or medical data and investigate the complexity of the living. Although defining systems biology might be difficult, on the other hand its purpose is clear: systems biology, with its emerging subfields systems medicine and systems pharmacology, clearly aims at making sense of complex observations/experimental and clinical datasets to improve our understanding of diseases and their treatments without putting aside the context in which they appear and develop. In this short review, we aim to specifically focus on these new subfields with the new theoretical tools and approaches that were developed in the context of cancer. Systems pharmacology and medicine now give hope for major improvements in cancer therapy, making personalized medicine closer to reality. As we will see, the current challenge is to be able to improve the clinical practice according to the paradigm shift of systems sciences.


Big data Precision medicine Personalized medicine Drug development Multi-scale approach 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Grenoble AlpesCNRS, TIMC-IMAG/DyCTIM2GrenobleFrance
  2. 2.North Wales Cancer CentreBetsi Cadwaladr University Health BoardBangorUK
  3. 3.INSERM and Université Paris 11 Unit 935VillejuifFrance
  4. 4.University of WarwickCoventryUK

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