Conditional robustness analysis for fragility discovery and target identification in biochemical networks and in cancer systems biology

Fortunato Bianconi*, Elisa Baldelli, Vienna Luovini, Emanuel F. Petricoin, Lucio Crinò, Paolo Valigi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: The study of cancer therapy is a key issue in the field of oncology research and the development of target therapies is one of the main problems currently under investigation. This is particularly relevant in different types of tumor where traditional chemotherapy approaches often fail, such as lung cancer. Results: We started from the general definition of robustness introduced by Kitano and applied it to the analysis of dynamical biochemical networks, proposing a new algorithm based on moment independent analysis of input/output uncertainty. The framework utilizes novel computational methods which enable evaluating the model fragility with respect to quantitative performance measures and parameters such as reaction rate constants and initial conditions. The algorithm generates a small subset of parameters that can be used to act on complex networks and to obtain the desired behaviors. We have applied the proposed framework to the EGFR-IGF1R signal transduction network, a crucial pathway in lung cancer, as an example of Cancer Systems Biology application in drug discovery. Furthermore, we have tested our framework on a pulse generator network as an example of Synthetic Biology application, thus proving the suitability of our methodology to the characterization of the input/output synthetic circuits. Conclusions: The achieved results are of immediate practical application in computational biology, and while we demonstrate their use in two specific examples, they can in fact be used to study a wider class of biological systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number70
JournalBMC Systems Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 19 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer robustness
  • Cancer systems biology
  • Drug discovery
  • EGFR-IGF1R networks
  • Lung cancer
  • Robustness analysis
  • Target therapies


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