Network-based approach to prediction and population-based validation of in silico drug repurposing

Feixiong Cheng, Rishi J. Desai, Diane E. Handy, Ruisheng Wang, Sebastian Schneeweiss, Albert-László Barabási & Joseph Loscalzo
Nature Communicationsvolume
July 12, 2018


Here we identify hundreds of new drug-disease associations for over 900 FDA-approved drugs by quantifying the network proximity of disease genes and drug targets in the human (protein—protein) interactome. We select four network-predicted associations to test their causal relationship using large healthcare databases with over 220 million patients and state-of-the-art pharmacoepidemiologic analyses. Using propensity score matching, two of four network-based predictions are validated in patient-level data: carbamazepine is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) [hazard ratio (HR) 1.56, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.12—2.18], and hydroxychloroquine is associated with a decreased risk of CAD (HR 0.76, 95% CI 0.59—0.97). In vitro experiments show that hydroxychloroquine attenuates pro-inflammatory cytokine-mediated activation in human aortic endothelial cells, supporting mechanistically its potential beneficial effect in CAD. In summary, we demonstrate that a unique integration of protein-protein interaction network proximity and large-scale patient-level longitudinal data complemented by mechanistic in vitro studies can facilitate drug repurposing

Related publications