As a first approximation, organisms can be defined by the complement of cell types that they possess. Each cell type is defined by its specific collection of signal transduction pathways. While many pathways are common to most cell types (e.g. glycolysis), others are specific to a particular cell type and sensitive to characterized that cell. Many diseases, including cancer, are characterized by aberrations in general and specific signal-transduction pathways. These pathways are generally intricate and not easily modeled. The formalism of complex adaptive system theory, however, provides the tools by which these pathways can be investigated. By modeling signal-transduction pathways from the viewpoint of complex adaptive systems, a deeper understanding of their intricacies may result. This could eventually lead to novel methods of therapeutic intervention in diseases that arise from aberrant signal transduction.
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