More than 30,000 drugs are ‘repurposable’

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Scientists have used big data analytics to identify drugs that have potential to be used in other diseases.

Researchers have identified a list of 31,731 drugs which, they say, have the potential to be repurposed to treat conditions other than the ones they were originally intended for.

Jan Baumbach, an expert in computational biomedicine at the University of Southern Denmark, together with colleagues in Germany, China, and the US, used big data analytics methods to trawl through pharmaceutical data, looking for high potential “repurposable” drugs.

Of those identified, approximately 11,000 have already been mentioned in scientific literature, and about 1,400 are reported in literature as concrete “repurposing” options, leaving 19,000 drug-disease combinations that no one has yet investigated. According to the paper, examples include using prednisone to treat Parkinson’s disease and chlorpromazine to treat tuberculosis.

Baumback said: “With our recent research, we predicted yet unknown beneficial effects for many drugs on different diseases than they were initially developed for. This is of immense value, both for patients and for the pharmaceutical industry – in particular when it comes to avoiding expensive clinical trials on drug safety.”

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