Mathematical and Statistical Techniques for Systems Medicine: The Wnt Signaling Pathway as a Case Study
MacLean AL., Harrington HA., Stumpf MPH., Byrne HM.
The last decade has seen an explosion in models that describe phenomena in systems medicine. Such models are especially useful for studying signaling pathways, such as the Wnt pathway. In this chapter we use the Wnt pathway to showcase current mathematical and statistical techniques that enable modelers to gain insight into (models of) gene regulation and generate testable predictions. We introduce a range of modeling frameworks, but focus on ordinary differential equation (ODE) models since they remain the most widely used approach in systems biology and medicine and continue to offer great potential. We present methods for the analysis of a single model, comprising applications of standard dynamical systems approaches such as nondimensionalization, steady state, asymptotic and sensitivity analysis, and more recent statistical and algebraic approaches to compare models with data. We present parameter estimation and model comparison techniques, focusing on Bayesian analysis and coplanarity via algebraic geometry. Our intention is that this (non-exhaustive) review may serve as a useful starting point for the analysis of models in systems medicine.