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The score identifies both known drug–gene targets as well as potential novel therapeutic targets.
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Genetic Priority Score Finetunes Drug Development

Innovative approach integrates genetic data to identify drug targets with high potential for clinical trial success

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Published:Jan 03, 2024
|2 min read
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NEW YORK, NY — To better prioritize targets for drug development, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has led the development of a novel genetic priority score (GPS) that will integrate various types of human genetic data into a single easy-to-interpret score. The findings were described in Nature Genetics

Studies have shown that drugs have increased success in clinical trials when the genes they target have been demonstrated to have genetic support. The new tool integrates multiple lines of genetic evidence to prioritize these drug targets. 

The score measures the general ability of a gene to be targeted by drugs: Genes with a high score in the new tool are more likely to succeed as a drug target. The score identifies both known drug–gene targets as well as potential novel therapeutic targets.

“We built a genetic priority score that was inspired by the realization that diverse human genetic data provides insights into drug targets, yet there was an absence of a cohesive strategy for integrating these various data types into an easily interpretable score. So we developed a computational score to prioritize drug targets for enhanced drug discovery," says Ron Do, PhD, senior study author and the Charles Bronfman Professor in personalized medicine at Icahn Mount Sinai. “Remarkably, several genes with high GPS were already known to be targeted by approved drugs, providing validation for the new tool.”

The GPS, with its potential to streamline target prioritization, is positioned to have a significant impact on drug development. It offers a valuable resource for researchers seeking to optimize the selection of drug–gene targets for enhanced efficiency in the drug development process, say the investigators.

“The rising cost of developing therapeutics, in the billions, is primarily due to high clinical trial failures, underscoring inefficiencies in drug development pipelines. Improving early-stage target prioritization is critical. Studies consistently show that drug indications with human genetic support are more likely to succeed in trials and gain approval,” says study first author A?ine Duffy, a PhD candidate in Do’s lab.

The researchers are encouraged by the developments but emphasize this represents only a first step for prioritization and the need for careful follow-up and further investigation of gene targets with high scores. Next, the investigators plan to refine the model by incorporating additional genetic features and evaluating more sophisticated algorithms for constructing the GPS.

- This press release was originally published on the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai website