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Review

Network strategies to understand the aging process and help age-related drug design

Gábor I Simkó, Dávid Gyurkó, Dániel V Veres, Tibor Nánási and Peter Csermely*

Author Affiliations

Semmelweis University, Department of Medical Chemistry, PO Box 260, H-1444 Budapest, Hungary

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Genome Medicine 2009, 1:90  doi:10.1186/gm90

Published: 28 September 2009

Abstract

Recent studies have demonstrated that network approaches are highly appropriate tools for understanding the extreme complexity of the aging process. Moreover, the generality of the network concept helps to define and study the aging of technological and social networks and ecosystems, which may generate novel concepts for curing age-related diseases. The current review focuses on the role of protein-protein interaction networks (inter-actomes) in aging. Hubs and inter-modular elements of both interactomes and signaling networks are key regulators of the aging process. Aging induces an increase in the permeability of several cellular compartments, such as the cell nucleus, introducing gross changes in the representation of network structures. The large overlap between aging genes and genes of age-related major diseases makes drugs that aid healthy aging promising candidates for the prevention and treatment of age-related diseases, such as cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders. We also discuss a number of possible research options to further explore the potential of the network concept in this important field, and show that multi-target drugs (representing 'magic-buckshots' instead of the traditional 'magic bullets') may become an especially useful class of age-related drugs in the future.