Systems pharmacology in drug discovery and therapeutic insight for herbal medicines

Chao Huang, Chunli Zheng, Yan Li, Yonghua Wang*, Aiping LYU, Ling Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

187 Citations (Scopus)


Systems pharmacology is an emerging field that integrates systems biology and pharmacology to advance the process of drug discovery, development and the understanding of therapeutic mechanisms. The aim of the present work is to highlight the role that the systems pharmacology plays across the traditional herbal medicines discipline, which is exemplified by a case study of botanical drugs applied in the treatment of depression. First, based on critically examined pharmacology and clinical knowledge, we propose a large-scale statistical analysis to evaluate the efficiency of herbs used in traditional medicines. Second, we focus on the exploration of the active ingredients and targets by carrying out complex structure-, omics- and network-based systematic investigations. Third, specific informatics methods are developed to infer drug- disease connections, with purpose to understand how drugs work on the specific targets and pathways. Finally, we propose a new systems pharmacology method, which is further applied to an integrated platform (Herbal medicine Systems Pharmacology) of blended herbal medicine and omics data sets, allowing for the systematization of current and traditional knowledge of herbal medicines and, importantly, for the application of this emerging body of knowledge to the development of new drugs for complex human diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)710-733
Number of pages24
JournalBriefings in Bioinformatics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2013

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Information Systems
  • Molecular Biology

User-Defined Keywords

  • ADME
  • Depression
  • Herbal medicines
  • Network pharmacology
  • Systems pharmacology


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