Systems Medicine for Lung Diseases: Phenotypes and Precision Medicine in Cancer, Infection, and Allergy
Lung diseases cause an enormous socioeconomic burden. Four of them are among the ten most important causes of deaths worldwide: Pneumonia has the highest death toll of all infectious diseases, lung cancer kills the most people of all malignant proliferative disorders, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) ranks third in mortality among the chronic noncommunicable diseases, and tuberculosis is still one of the most important chronic infectious diseases. Despite all efforts, for example, by the World Health Organization and clinical and experimental researchers, these diseases are still highly prevalent and harmful. This is in part due to the specific organization of tissue homeostasis, architecture, and immunity of the lung. Recently, several consortia have formed and aim to bring together clinical and molecular data from big cohorts of patients with lung diseases with novel experimental setups, biostatistics, bioinformatics, and mathematical modeling. This “systems medicine” concept will help to match the different disease modalities with adequate therapeutic and possibly preventive strategies for individual patients in the sense of precision medicine.