Journal Article

Network Medicine: A Mandatory Next Step for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Heitor S P de Souza and Claudio Fiocchi

in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Volume 24, issue 4, pages 671-679
Published in print March 2018 | ISSN: 1078-0998
Published online March 2018 | e-ISSN: 1536-4844 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ibd/izx111
Network Medicine: A Mandatory Next Step for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Abstract

Despite unquestionable progress in the management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and the much improved clinical results achievable today in Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) patients, the overall therapeutic outcome remains far from optimal. The main reason of this partial success is that all current medications only block individual components of a highly complex disease process that results from the integration of multiple and incompletely identified pathogenic components. Thus, if further progress is to be achieved in IBD therapeutics and we want to move from the current success rate to nearly 100%, bold new ideas must be entertained and new approaches put into practice. Both are necessary because in IBD we are dealing with a prototypical complex disease superimposed to the background of the extreme biological diversity of humans in response to injury. An unresolved challenge mandates the adoption of new solutions specifically designed to address the unique features of that challenge. Translated to a disease condition, and IBD in particular, the unresolved challenges of CD and UC demand bold new thinking leading to the conception and implementation of totally innovative therapies. In this article, we propose that one such new thinking is the notion of network medicine for IBD, and that the development of brand new treatments should be based on the identification of the molecular structure of the IBD interactome with the purpose of targeting its controlling elements (central nodes or hubs). This specific targeting of the underlying molecular disease modules will lead to the disruption of the IBD interactome and foster the resolution of intestinal inflammatory process.

Keywords: inflammatory bowel disease; ulcerative colitis; Crohn’s disease; systems biology; network medicine

Journal Article.  6513 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medicine and Health ; Clinical Medicine ; Gastroenterology ; Patient Education and Information ; Gastro-intestinal and Colorectal Surgery

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