What systems biology can tell us about disease

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33 (4) (2011)
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Abstract

- A recent debate has touched upon the question of whether diseases can be understood as dysfunctional mechanisms or whether there are "pathological" mechanisms that deserve to be investigated and explained independently (Nervi 2010; Moghaddam Taaheri 2011). Here I suggest that both views tell us something important about disease but that in many instances only a systemic view can shed light on the relationship between physiology and pathology. I provide examples from the literature in systems biology in support of my position. As a result of my analysis, I conclude that a perspective narrowly focusing on mechanisms is insufficient if the goal is to get a comprehensive picture of disease.

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Fridolin Gross
Université de Bordeaux

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