Cellular systems are networks of interacting components that change with time in response to external and internal events. Studying the dynamic behavior of these networks is the basis for an understanding of cellular functions and disease mechanisms. Quantitative time-series data leading to meaningful models can improve our knowledge of human physiology in health and disease, and aid the search for earlier diagnoses, better therapies and a healthier life. The advent of systems biology is about to take the leap into clinical research and medical applications. This review emphasizes the importance of a dynamic view and understanding of cell function. We discuss the potential for computer-aided mathematical modeling of biological systems in medical research with examples from some of the major therapeutic areas: cancer, cardiovascular, diabetic and neurodegenerative medicine.
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