We are currently in the middle of a major shift in biomedical research: unprecedented and rapidly growing amounts of data may be obtained today, from in vitro, in vivo and clinical studies, at molecular, physiological and clinical levels. To make use of these large-scale, multi-level datasets, corresponding multi-level mathematical models are needed, i.e. models that simultaneously capture multiple layers of the biological, physiological and disease-level organization (also referred to as quantitative systems pharmacology—QSP—models). However, today's multi-level models are not yet embedded in end-usage applications, neither in drug research and development nor in the clinic. Given the expectations and claims made historically, this seemingly slow adoption may seem surprising. Therefore, we herein consider a specific example—type 2 diabetes—and critically review the current status and identify key remaining steps for these models to become mainstream in the future. This overview reveals how, today, we may use models to ask scientific questions concerning, e.g., the cellular origin of insulin resistance, and how this translates to the whole-body level and short-term meal responses. However, before these multi-level models can become truly useful, they need to be linked with the capabilities of other important existing models, in order to make them ‘personalized’ (e.g. specific to certain patient phenotypes) and capable of describing long-term disease progression. To be useful in drug development, it is also critical that the developed models and their underlying data and assumptions are easily accessible. For clinical end-usage, in addition, model links to decision-support systems combined with the engagement of other disciplines are needed to create user-friendly and cost-efficient software packages.
One contribution of 12 to a theme issue ‘The Human Physiome: a necessary key to the creative destruction of medicine’.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.