Rescuing drug discovery: in vivo systems pathology and systems pharmacology


The pharmaceutical industry is currently beleaguered by close scrutiny from the financial community, regulators and the general public. Productivity, in terms of new drug approvals, has generally been falling for almost a decade and the safety of a number of highly successful drugs has recently been brought into question. Here, we discuss whether taking an in vivo systems approach to drug discovery and development could be the paradigm shift that rescues the industry.

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Figure 1: Flowchart for systems pathology and systems pharmacology.
Figure 2: Potential use of systems pathology and systems pharmacology to identify potential drug combinations for treating a disease.
Figure 3: Assessing the properties of a system in response to combination drug therapy.


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The authors thank A. Adourian and P. Stroobant for helpful suggestions on the manuscript and for assistance with the figures.

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The authors declare that they have competing financial interests. R.N.McB. is an employee of, and a shareholder in, BG Medicine. J.v.d.G. is a member of the Research and Development Advisory Board of, and a shareholder in, BG Medicine.

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van der Greef, J., McBurney, R. Rescuing drug discovery: in vivo systems pathology and systems pharmacology. Nat Rev Drug Discov 4, 961–967 (2005).

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