This Research Topic is part of the article collection series: Application of Systems Biological Strategy in Study of Neurodegeneration
World population growth and life expectancy increase have been accompanied by a progressively enlarged older population. Among other prevailing causes of death (ie. cardiovascular diseases and cancer), neurodegenerative diseases have been known as top illnesses afflicting the elderly, including Alzheimer, Parkinson, ALS. As no cure but only care is available, the socio-economic burden of this patient population is expected to soar up in the coming decades, which will surely foreshadow a depressing future for the next generations if no significance breakthrough has been made in searching effective treatments for the patients with neurodegenerative diseases.
In spite of the different clinical symptoms, neurodegenerative diseases share some commonalities. All diseases initiate when neurons in the central nervous system begin to function abnormally and worsen when neurons slowly demise during aging, making patients lose the general function and need total assistance eventually. Usually, there is long latency from the early stage when patients show function abnormal to the onset when they have difficult to independently handle daily activities, leaving a certain period of time window for medical intervention. Therefore, targeting neurodegeneration is a promising strategy to halt disease progression and restore the existing neural function.
Current advance in the study of pathogenesis has revealed that neurodegenerative diseases involve a combination of multiple causative factors (genomic, epigenomic, and environmental factors) and complex interplay among a variety of pathological networks (amyloidogenesis, tauopathy, proteostasis imbalance, mitochondria dysfunction, neuroinflammation, et al.) at system-level, which consequentially triggers a cascade of downstream effects resulting in the complex and heterogeneous phenotypes. Therefore, proper investigation on the perturbation in the complex biological networks at systematic level can help understand mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration and prioritize the potential key targets as well as develop more effective therapeutics.
Previous system biological approaches have shown efficient on elucidation of complex etiology of neurodegenerative disease (mechanism of cell death, prion-like transmittable toxicity, genetic and environmental interaction, et al). In addition, application of computational biology in neurosciences has generated massive amount data (clinical data, neuroimage, epigenomics, metabolomics, next generation RNA sequence, single cell gene expression profile, GWAS, eQTL, et al.) and developed many cutting-edge systems biological methods. Mining useful data from biomedical databases, taking leverage of new systems biological technology in neurodegenerative disease research, and interpreting the complex experimental data that traditional approaches are not powerful enough to handle will spur discovering new mechanisms and finding economic biomarkers (body fluid, image, genetic and exosome) for early diagnosis or tracking disease progression, as well as developing effective intervention or combinational therapy aiming multiple targets and pathways.
In such a context, this Research Topic aims to bring together emerging trends of application of systematic methods in combating neurodegenerative diseases, with the goal of inspiring novel systems biological research strategies for this community.