A new review article from Nick Plant (An Introduction to Systems Toxicology; Toxicology Research, 2014) provides an excellent overview of the need for systems toxicology, and the available approaches: covering relational databases, rule and structure alerts and modelling, ranging from small to multiscale and from qualitative to quantitaitve models.
Plant approaches this topic from the perspective of drug discovery, and links systems toxicology to the fascinating prospect of network drug targeting, in which drug discovery could in fact start with drug combinations, with each drug alone appearing minimally active. The risk would be that this ‘synergistic pharmacology’ might be accompanied by ‘synergistic toxicology’; however there are some encouraging signs that in fact combination therapies are generally more specific than single therapies.
An introduction to systems toxicology; Nick J. Plant; Toxicol. Res., 2014, Advance Article; DOI: 10.1039/C4TX00058G