Network medicine approaches to the genetics of complex diseases.
Complex diseases are caused by perturbations of biological networks. Genetic analysis approaches focused on individual genetic determinants are unlikely to characterize the network architecture of complex diseases comprehensively. Network medicine, which applies systems biology and network science to complex molecular networks underlying human disease, focuses on identifying the interacting genes and proteins which lead to disease pathogenesis. The long biological path between a genetic risk variant and development of a complex disease involves a range of biochemical intermediates, including coding and non-coding RNA, proteins, and metabolites. Transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and other -omics technologies have the potential to provide insights into complex disease pathogenesis, especially if they are applied within a network biology framework. Most previous efforts to relate genetics to -omics data have focused on a single -omics platform; the next generation of complex disease genetics studies will require integration of multiple types of -omics data sets in a network context. Network medicine may also provide insight into complex disease heterogeneity, serve as the basis for new disease classifications that reflect underlying disease pathogenesis, and guide rational therapeutic and preventive strategies.