Systems biology is an integrative discipline connecting the molecular components within a single biological scale and also among different scales (e.g. cells, tissues and organ systems) to physiological functions and organismal phenotypes through quantitative reasoning, computational models and high-throughput experimental technologies. Systems biology uses a wide range of quantitative experimental and computational methodologies to decode information flow from genes, proteins and other subcellular components of signaling, regulatory and functional pathways to control cell, tissue, organ and organismal level functions. The computational methods used in systems biology provide systems-level insights to understand interactions and dynamics at various scales, within cells, tissues, organs and organisms. In recent years, the systems biology framework has enabled research in quantitative and systems pharmacology and precision medicine for complex diseases. Here, we present a brief overview of current experimental and computational methods used in systems biology.
Cell signalling pathways and networks are complex and often non-linear. Signalling pathways can be represented as systems of biochemical reactions that can be modelled using differential equations. Computational modelling of cell signalling pathways is emerging as a tool that facilitates mechanistic understanding of complex biological systems. Mathematical models are also used to generate predictions that may be tested experimentally. In the present chapter, the various steps involved in building models of cell signalling pathways are discussed. Depending on the nature of the process being modelled and the scale of the model, different mathematical formulations, ranging from stochastic representations to ordinary and partial differential equations are discussed. This is followed by a brief summary of some recent modelling successes and the state of future models.