Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are among the most pressing global health problems of the twenty-first century. Their rising incidence and prevalence is linked to severe morbidity and mortality, and they are putting economic and managerial pressure on healthcare systems around the world. Moreover, NCDs are impeding healthy aging by negatively affecting the quality of life of a growing number of the global population. NCDs result from the interaction of various genetic, environmental and habitual factors, and cluster in complex ways, making the complex identification of resulting phenotypes not only difficult, but also a top research priority. The degree of complexity required to interpret large patient datasets generated by advanced high-throughput functional genomics assays has now increased to the point that novel computational biology approaches are essential to extract information that is relevant to the clinical decision-making process. Consequently, system-level models that interpret the interactions between extensive tissues, cellular and molecular measurements and clinical features are also being created to identify new disease phenotypes, so that disease definition and treatment are optimized, and novel therapeutic targets discovered. Likewise, Systems Medicine (SM) platforms applied to extensively-characterized patients provide a basis for more targeted clinical trials, and represent a promising tool to achieve better prevention and patient care, thereby promoting healthy aging globally. The present paper: (1) reviews the novel systems approaches to NCDs; (2) discusses how to move efficiently from Systems Biology to Systems Medicine; and (3) presents the scientific and clinical background of the San Raffaele Systems Medicine Platform.
- non communicable