February 11, 2015
To aid drug repurposing, a topic of considerable interest among the rare disease researchers, the authors of an article published in Artificial Intelligence in Medicine have described a novel web tool: DrugNet. The authors “built a network of interconnected drugs, proteins and diseases and applied DrugNet to different types of tests for drug repositioning”. Their work is based on the principle that biological entities are intricately networked as well as being dynamic and heterogeneous. The web tool (http://genome2.ugr.es/drugnet/) provides a list of ranked drugs (active substance) based on a given disease or provides a ranked list of diseases (possibly new indications that can be pursued) for a drug query. According to the authors, Drugnet was able to “identify previously unknown drug applications extremely reliably in real situations and so these methods may potentially save a large amount of resources in the drug development pipeline”. The authors believe that usage of Drugnet could potentially bring respite for patients with no treatment, especially rare disease patients, sooner as the identified drugs have already been shown to be safe and tolerable.