A global view of drug-therapy interactions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Network science is already making an impact on the study of complex systems and offers a promising variety of tools to understand their formation and evolution in many disparate fields from technological networks to biological systems. Even though new high-throughput technologies have rapidly been generating large amounts of genomic data, drug design has not followed the same development, and it is still complicated and expensive to develop new single-target drugs. Nevertheless, recent approaches suggest that multi-target drug design combined with a network-dependent approach and large-scale systems-oriented strategies create a promising framework to combat complex multi-genetic disorders like cancer or diabetes. Results: We here investigate the human network corresponding to the interactions between all US approved drugs and human therapies, defined by known relationships between drugs and their therapeutic applications. Our results show that the average paths in this drug-therapy network are shorter than three steps, indicating that distant therapies are separated by a surprisingly low number of chemical compounds. We also identify a sub-network composed by drugs with high centrality measures in the drug-therapy network, which represent the structural backbone of this system and act as hubs routing information between distant parts of the network. Conclusion: These findings provide for the first time a global map of the large-scale organization of all known drugs and associated therapies, bringing new insights on possible strategies for future drug development. Special attention should be given to drugs which combine the two properties of (a) having a high centrality value in the drug-therapy network and (b) acting on multiple molecular targets in the human system. © 2008 Nacher and Schwartz; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalBMC Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 2008