Computer Algorithm Accelerates Drug Creation Process

Algorithm uses a computational model of the human body's protein networks.

Algorithm uses a computational model of the human body's protein networks.

Scientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have developed a computer algorithm to greatly accelerate the drug production process.

The computer algorithm, DeMAND (Detecting Mechanism of Action by Network Dysregulation) uses a computational model of the human body's protein networks, and how they react with each other. Scientists are able to perform experiments as different drugs enter the body, and can accurately track gene expression changes.

Drugs are designed to target particular molecules in the cell. Upon tests, these drugs sometimes have adverse effects with other parts of the body, and this accounts for why there are many trial and error stages in the drug creation process.

Co-senior author Mukesh Bansal sees great potential in this approach.

"DeMAND could accelerate the drug discovery process and reduce the cost of drug development by unraveling how new compounds work in the body,” Bansal said. “Our findings on altretamine also show that it can determine novel therapeutic applications for existing FDA-approved drugs."

In the study, human diffuse B-cell lymphoma cells were exposed to different drugs, and DeMAND identified 70% of the known targeted areas.

"For the first time we can perform a genome-wide search to identify the entire set of proteins that play a role in a drug's activity," said study co-author Dr. Andrea Califano, the Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Chemical Systems Biology and chair of the department of Systems Biology at CUMC.

This study was published in the journal Cell.