Systems biology-based diagnostic principles as pillars of the bridge between Chinese and Western medicine

Innovative systems approaches to develop medicine and health care are emerging from the integration of Chinese and Western medicine strategies, philosophies and practices. The two medical systems are highly complementary as the reductionist aspects of Western medicine are favourable in acute disease situations and the holistic aspects of Chinese medicine offer more opportunities in chronic conditions and for prevention. In this article we argue that diagnosis plays a key role in building the bridge between Chinese and Western medicine. Recent advances in the study of health, healing, placebo effects and patient-physician interactions will be discussed pointing out the development of a system-based diagnosis. Especially, a system biology-based diagnosis can be used to capture phenotype information, leading towards a scientific basis for a more refined patient characterization, new diagnostic tools and personalized heath strategies. Subtyping of rheumatoid arthritis patients based on Chinese diagnostic principles is discussed as an example. New insights from this process of integrating Western and Chinese medicine will pave the way for a patient-centred health care ecosystem.

J. van der Greef, H. van Wietmarschen, J. Schroën, M. Wang, T. Hankemeier, G. Xu
Publication data (text): 
2010; 76 (17): 2036-2047
Published in: 
Planta Medica
Date of publication: 
December, 2010
Status of the publication: 
Sino Dutch Institute for Preventive and Personalized Medicine