Systems biology has entered the biological lexicon but is only just gaining acceptance within the clinical community. Some reasons for slow uptake include a misunderstanding of the opportunities (and limitations) offered by systems approaches, an absence of real-life ‘success-stories’ of clinical application, and perhaps deficiencies in cross-disciplinary training and multidisciplinary teamwork. Nevertheless, breast cancer, and its management, is complex and multi-parametric and therefore ideally suited to the systems approach. There are a number of opportunities to apply systems biology to real clinical problems, such as drug and biomarker discovery, the integration of clinical and biological data for therapeutic decision-making, and refining pharmacogenetic and pharmacogenomic algorithms for prognosis and prediction in breast cancer patients. In some of these areas there has been success, in others a more complete understanding of systems biology is required in order to tailor new technologies, mathematics, and clinical trial design to successfully utilize systems approaches. In this talk I will discuss where and how systems biology may be useful to the clinician, both now and in the future.

Citation Information: Cancer Res 2010;70(24 Suppl):Abstract nr ES8-1.