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Old drug, new use.

Posted Aug 29 2011 2:17am

I love reversible clothing. In fact, it is a small obsession of mine and I still don’t feel like there has been much of an appreciation for it since the 80’s — remember Units ? Of course you do.

Scientists have discovered a new way to predict unexpected benefits of existing drugs.

In today's issue of Science Translational Medicine, he and his colleagues present a more efficient way of finding such new uses for old drugs: by bringing together data on how diseases and drugs affect the activity of the roughly 30,000 genes in a human cell. Researchers have collected information on which genes are activated or silenced in certain diseases and by certain drugs for many years. "Our hypothesis was, if a disease is characterized by certain changes in gene expression and if a drug causes the reverse changes, then that drug could have a therapeutic effect on the disease," he says.

To find such opposing pairs, Butte and colleagues used public databases and compared the data for 100 diseases with that for 164 drug molecules. They found candidate therapeutics for 53 of the diseases. Many matches had already been discovered and turned into therapies, but others were completely unexpected. For example, the analysis predicted that an epilepsy drug called topiramate would be active against inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease. And the over-the-counter drug cimetidine, which inhibits acid production in the stomach and is used to treat heartburn, matched a certain type of lung cancer.
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