Use of mathematics to guide target selection in systems pharmacology; application to receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) pathways

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A key element of the drug discovery process is target selection. Although the topic is subject to much discussion and experimental effort, there are no defined quantitative rules around optimal selection. Often ‘rules of thumb’, that have not been subject to rigorous exploration, are used. In this paper we explore the ‘rule of thumb’ notion that the molecule that initiates a pathway signal is the optimal target. Given the multi-factorial and complex nature of this question, we have simplified an example pathway to its logical minimum of two steps and used a mathematical model of this to explore the different options in the context of typical small and large molecule drugs. In this paper, we report the conclusions of our analysis and describe the analysis tool and methods used. These provide a platform to enable a more extensive enquiry into this important topic.

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