Biomolecular self-defense and futility of high-specificity therapeutic targeting.

National Cancer Institute, EPN 3108, 6130 Executive Blvd., Rockville, Maryland 20892, USA.
Gene regulation and systems biology 01/2011; 5:89-104. DOI: 10.4137/GRSB.S8542
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Robustness has been long recognized to be a distinctive property of living entities. While a reasonably wide consensus has been achieved regarding the conceptual meaning of robustness, the biomolecular mechanisms underlying this systemic property are still open to many unresolved questions. The goal of this paper is to provide an overview of existing approaches to characterization of robustness in mathematically sound terms. The concept of robustness is discussed in various contexts including network vulnerability, nonlinear dynamic stability, and self-organization. The second goal is to discuss the implications of biological robustness for individual-target therapeutics and possible strategies for outsmarting drug resistance arising from it. Special attention is paid to the concept of swarm intelligence, a well studied mechanism of self-organization in natural, societal and artificial systems. It is hypothesized that swarm intelligence is the key to understanding the emergent property of chemoresistance.

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