Higher Order Interactions are the Causes of and the Solutions to the Problems in Medicine
In conventional thinking people like to reduce the problem of the disease to one or a small number of individual problems. However, any disease, as in other spheres of life, is the result of the interactions of individually acting factors. A lone human being behaves differently than when paired with another person and very differently when a member of a group. Group behavior is higher-order interaction. We deal differently with an individual than we deal with the group.
In medicine, the prevailing paradigm has been one disease, one target, and one drug. Of late, having realized the fallacy of this model, in many diseases such as cancer, we use a cocktail of drugs. However, because of practical reasons of augmented toxicity and limited knowledge of the disease-specific species (what you don’t know you can’t drug), the number of drugs in a cocktail are extremely limited and often lack true, beneficial synergy.
Nature’s solution to the problem of a disease that is the result of higher-order interactions is not a silver bullet or reductionistic. Nature strategically deploys an ensemble of endogenous metabolites with the right amount of each molecule and fine-tuned for its biochemical property to have an optimal effect on its target and synergy among the combination to amplify the net effect. The whole is more than the sum of the parts. We use OMS that resulted from common evolutionary pathways against biological targets. These synergistic interactions and its breadth in targeting higher-order effects break new grounds in developing the drugs for complex diseases.