In reality, the whole is more than the sum of its parts, a view taken by Greek philosopher and scientist, Aristotle, over 2,000 years ago. The overarching principle behind the science of systems biology is literally based on this holistic view. Through integrating methods and approaches from a range of far reaching disciplines, including mathematics, chemistry, physics, engineering and computer science, a holistic view of a biological system can be created by combining data from all the different system levels. This makes sense, because we are able to generate a much better picture of what is happening to the brain of someone living with Alzheimer’s by combining information from their DNA right up to their brain and whole body.
Most importantly, for the study of the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s, systems biology (the ‘integrative approach’ enables us to predict the behaviour of a system over time using data that has been collected over the same time scale.