One of the behaviors which Dr. Kafkafi named "universal drug detector" is accelerating quickly when starting to move and decelerating quickly when stopping. Forty out of 41 of the drugs in the study decreased the use of this behavior by the mice, making it the broadest known test for identifying drug effect. Several other behavioral tests then served to divide the drugs into their respective classes. When tested on 11 unidentified drugs, the algorithm classified nine of them correctly. And in the two cases where the algorithm was wrong, it identified possible alternative uses, suggesting that the procedure could be used to repurpose drugs already on the market.
A powerful paradigm
In addition to its broad scope and potential for repurposing drugs, Pattern Array has the advantage that it can improve itself over time. Every time data from an additional drug or behavior is added to the database, the algorithm gains predictive ability.
"The more information you add to the database, the more you increase its power, because you discover more patterns that you can now test for," says Dr. Kafkafi. "And you can even go back and reevaluate animal tests that you ran five years ago."
Dr. Kafkafi has already expanded the algorithm to work with additional psychiatric drugs and classes. But he says it may have even more potential in detecting the effects of genetic disorders something hinted at in a previous study, in which he diagnosed Lou Gehrig's disease in rats at a much younger age than any standard test could. He is looking into
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University