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Stanford/Packard Scientists Find New Uses For Existing Drugs By Mining Gene-Activity Data Banks

Posted Aug 17 2011 9:38pm

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have paired up medicines and maladies with help from a molecular “” When the scientists applied an “opposites attract” algorithm to publicly available databases, surprising sparks flew: They found potential compatibilities between numerous existing drugs and diseases for which those drugs had never before been thought to be beneficial.

So far, preclinical tests have borne out at least two of these findings: Cimetidine — a widely used, cheap, over-the-counter anti-ulcer drug — may be a good fit for a form of lung cancer; and topiramate — an off-patent anti-seizure drug with a solid safety profile — may be therapeutic for inflammatory bowel disease.

Scientists led by Atul Butte, MD, PhD, associate professor of systems medicine in pediatrics, combed public databases with a sophisticated computer algorithm and identified numerous drug-and-disease pairs that may have a therapeutic future together. The coupling is based on the opposing directions in which a given disease and a given drug alter various genes’ activity in tissues.

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