Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 6, 202-210 (March 2007) | doi:10.1038/nrd2195

InnovationA robustness-based approach to systems-oriented drug design

Hiroaki Kitano1  About the author


Many potential drugs that specifically target a particular protein considered to underlie a given disease have been found to be less effective than hoped, or to cause significant side effects. The intrinsic robustness of living systems against various perturbations is a key factor that prevents such compounds from being successful. By studying complex network systems and reformulating control and communication theories that are well established in engineering, a theoretical foundation for a systems-oriented approach to more effectively control the robustness of living systems, particularly at the cellular level, could be developed. Here, I use examples that are based on existing drugs to illustrate the concept of robustness, and then discuss how a greater consideration of the importance of robustness could influence the design of new drugs that will be intended to control complex systems.

Author affiliations

  1. Hiroaki Kitano is at Sony Computer Science Laboratories Inc., 3-14-13 Higashi-Gotanda, Shinagawa, Tokyo 141-0022, Japan; The Systems Biology Institute, Suite 6A M31 6-31-15 Jingumae, Shuibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan; and the Department of Cancer Systems Biology, The Cancer Institute, 3-10-6 Ariake, Koutou-ku, Tokyo 135-8550, Japan.

Published online 23 February 2007


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