A discovery about the complex make-up of our cells could lead to the development of new types of medicines, a study led by Edinburgh University has suggested.
Researchers said they found that proteins, which enable the cells in our bodies to function, communicated by a complex network of chemical messages.
They had expected to find only simple links between individual proteins.
This suggested drugs should be more complex to treat illnesses effectively.
The results were obtained by studying yeast, which has many corresponding proteins in human cells.
Researchers used advanced technology to identify hundreds of different proteins, and then used statistical analysis to identify the more important links between them, mapping almost 2,000 connections in all.
They were surprised to find that proteins were inter-connected in a complex web.
Professor Mike Tyers of Edinburgh University's School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: "Medicines could work better if they targeted networks of proteins rather than sole proteins associated with particular illnesses."
The research, which was published in the journal Science, was carried out in collaboration with Mount Sinai Hospital, Ontario, and the Universities of Michigan and Toronto.
It was supported by the Royal Society and the Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance.