P4 Medicine is emerging out of the new capabilities provided by a fundamental transformation of the science of biology. Within the last few years biology has increasingly become an information-based discipline focused on systems approaches to a holistic understanding of complex biological systems. These systems approaches are based on the application of information technology to increasingly comprehensive sets of molecular, cellular, and phenotypic data.
Systems biology is now pioneering actionable understandings of disease and wellness as a continuum of network states unique in time and space to each individual human being. These network states can be perturbed to change beneficially by various means which are precisely adapted to the unique biology of each individual, including behavioral changes as well as drugs. Use of this actionable information will not be the sole province of physicians; it will also be used by activated and networked patients, with the assistance of coaches and other support mechanisms, to better manage their health and to implement physician-prescribed disease treatment regimes.
Blood as a Window into Health and Disease
Scientists at the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) are exploring new techniques and strategies that will make blood a window for health and disease, which is a critical platform for P4 Medicine and in new advances in drug target discovery. These approaches focus on using organ-specific blood proteins and blood miRNAs to demonstrate that these blood biomarkers can achieve pre-symptomatic diagnosis; the stratification or specification of the different subtypes of a single disease (e.g.; breast cancer); and to follow the progression of disease.
ISB is pioneering the development of a host of clinical assays, employing genomic, proteomic, single-cell, and phenotypic measurements. These quantitative measurements will allow new dimensions of patient data space to be explored in the context of P4 Medicine, which will provide insights into biology and medicine and help researchers decipher the complexities of disease so that they can translate these discoveries into diagnostic tests and targeted therapies.