Thomas R. Cox, Dec 2012
My recent mini-review has just been published in Tumor Microenvironment and Therapy. The review is titled “Network biology and the 3-Dimensional tumor microenvironment: personalizing medicine for the future” and discusses the importance of applying network biology approaches to physiologically relevant 3-Dimensional models of cancer and cancer metastasis.
Over the past decade, solid tumors have increasingly become recognized as discrete ‘organs’ that show a complexity that approaches and may even exceed that of normal healthy tissue. Tumors develop as a result of the dysregulation of multiple pathways governing fundamental cell processes such as death, proliferation, differentiation and migration. Concomitantly, the extrinsic contribution of the tumor microenvironment is now considered to be as important as tumour cell intrinsic factors in tumorigenesis and metastatic dissemination. This shift in our perception requires a change in the way we study cancer, from the reductionist to network-based, systems biology approaches, and signals the start of the network medicine era. Cancer cell behavior and phenotype are the complex integration of collective nonlinear interactions between cellular and environmental cues, whereby temporary stable states exist within the constantly evolving tumor landscape. Currently, the majority of cancer studies choose to focus on single genes and proteins without investigating associated networks, which has led to the poor efficiency of the vast majority of targeted therapies. There are increasing studies now looking at cancer as a network problem, but many of these still exclude the tumor microenvironment. The inclusion of tumor microenvironment interactions needs to be taken into consideration against a network biology backdrop to fully understand the complexity of these cellular phase spaces and maximise the power of the emerging high-throughput platforms currently being deployed against cancer.
Cox TR and Erler JT. Network biology and the 3-Dimensional tumor micro-environment: personalizing medicine for the future
Tumor Microenvironment and Therapy; (1), 14-18 (2012) | doi: 10.2478/tumor-2012-0002