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01.12.2012 | Review | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

Cancer Cell International 1/2012

Is systems biology a promising approach to resolve controversies in cancer research?

Cancer Cell International > Ausgabe 1/2012
Ana M Soto, Carlos Sonnenschein
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

Both authors contributed equally to the development of the ideas and the writing of this review. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.


At the beginning of the 21st century cancer research has reached an impasse similar to that experienced in developmental biology in the first decades of the 20th century when conflicting results and interpretations co-existed for a long time until these differences were resolved and contradictions were eliminated. In cancer research, instead of this healthy "weeding-out" process, there have been attempts to reach a premature synthesis, while no hypothesis is being rejected. Systems Biology could help cancer research to overcome this stalemate by resolving contradictions and identifying spurious data. First, in silico experiments should allow cancer researchers to be bold and a priori reject sets of data and hypotheses in order to gain a deeper understanding of how each dataset and each hypothesis contributes to the overall picture. In turn, this process should generate novel hypotheses and rules, which could be explored using these in silico approaches. These activities are significantly less costly and much faster than "wet-experiments". Consequently, Systems Biology could be advantageously used both as a heuristic tool to guide "wet-experiments" and to refine hypotheses and test predictions.
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