Computational Systems Pharmacology and Toxicology
CHAPTER 11: Network Pharmacology Research Approaches for Chinese Herbal Medicines
Published:01 Mar 2017
Network pharmacology has been defined as a process that encompasses a network approach to represent and analyze the complex biological systems underlying diseases and drug actions. It has become a critical part of drug discovery, drug design, and drug development, and has become an important aspect of research in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The basic principle is to create a biological network using bioinformatics and other software tools that deconstructs a disease or condition into genes, gene products, and related associations such as connectivity and feedback. When interrogated, the network will provide intuitive information on therapeutic interventions from herbal ingredients in TCM formulations and with TCMs in combination therapy with Western drugs. Network pharmacology establishes a pragmatic network model and predicts drug target(s) from information available in several online databases. By constructing drug–target–disease networks, information from screening technologies and bioinformatics tools can be used to predict and optimize the efficacy and safety of a single component or combinations of components of both Chinese herbal medicines and Western therapeutics. Several examples are presented which highlight how network pharmacology approaches connect new technologies into the holistic concepts of centuries old traditional medicine.