Due to advances in next generation sequencing technologies and corresponding reductions in cost, it is now attainable to investigate genome-wide gene expression and variants at a patient-level, so as to better understand and anticipate heterogeneous responses to therapy. Consequently, it is feasible to inform personalized drug treatment decisions using personal genomics data. However, these efforts are limited due to a lack of reliable computational approaches for predicting effective drugs for individual patients. The reverse gene set enrichment analysis (i.e., connectivity mapping) approach and its variants have been widely and successfully used for drug prediction. However, the performance of these methods is limited by undefined mechanism of action (MoA) of drugs and reliance on cohorts of patients rather than personalized predictions for individual patients.
In this study, we have developed and evaluated a computational approach, known as Mechanism and Drug Miner (MD-Miner), using a network-based computational approach to predict effective drugs and reveal potential drug mechanisms of action at the level of signaling pathways. Specifically, the patient-specific signaling network is constructed by integrating known disease associated genes with patient-derived gene expression profiles. In parallel, a drug mechanism of action network is constructed by integrating drug targets and z-score profiles of drug-induced gene expression (pre vs. post-drug treatment). Potentially effective candidate drugs are prioritized according to the number of common genes between the patient-specific dysfunctional signaling network and drug MoA network. We evaluated the MD-Miner method on the PC-3 prostate cancer cell line, and showed that it significantly improved the success rate of discovering effective drugs compared with the random selection, and could provide insight into potential mechanisms of action.
This work provides a signaling network-based drug repositioning approach. Compared with the reverse gene signature based drug repositioning approaches, the proposed method can provide clues of mechanism of action in terms of signaling transduction networks.