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This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the ACM Sixth International Workshop on Data and Text Mining in Biomedical Informatics (DTMBio 2012)

Open Access Proceedings

Rule-based multi-scale simulation for drug effect pathway analysis

Woochang Hwang, Yongdeuk Hwang, Sunjae Lee and Doheon Lee*

Author affiliations

Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, KAIST, Daejeon, South Korea

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Citation and License

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2013, 13(Suppl 1):S4  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-13-S1-S4

Published: 5 April 2013



Biological systems are robust and complex to maintain stable phenotypes under various conditions. In these systems, drugs reported the limited efficacy and unexpected side-effects. To remedy this situation, many pharmaceutical laboratories have begun to research combination drugs and some of them have shown successful clinical results. Complementary action of multiple compounds could increase efficacy as well as reduce side-effects through pharmacological interactions. However, experimental approach requires vast cost of preclinical experiments and tests as the number of possible combinations of compound dosages increases exponentially. Computer model-based experiments have been emerging as one of the most promising solutions to cope with such complexity. Though there have been many efforts to model specific molecular pathways using qualitative and quantitative formalisms, they suffer from unexpected results caused by distant interactions beyond their localized models.


In this work, we propose a rule-based multi-scale modelling platform. We have tested this platform with Type 2 diabetes (T2D) model, which involves the malfunction of numerous organs such as pancreas, circulation system, liver, and adipocyte. We have extracted T2D-related 190 rules by manual curation from literature, pathway databases and converting from different types of existing models. We have simulated twenty-two T2D drugs. The results of our simulation show drug effect pathways of T2D drugs and whether combination drugs have efficacy or not and how combination drugs work on the multi-scale model.


We believe that our simulation would help to understand drug mechanism for the drug development and provide a new way to effectively apply existing drugs for new target. It also would give insight for identifying effective combination drugs.