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PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e35254. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035254. Epub 2012 Apr 13.

Predicting Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) classification of drugs by integrating chemical-chemical interactions and similarities.

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College of Information Engineering, Shanghai Maritime University, Shanghai, China.


The Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) classification system, recommended by the World Health Organization, categories drugs into different classes according to their therapeutic and chemical characteristics. For a set of query compounds, how can we identify which ATC-class (or classes) they belong to? It is an important and challenging problem because the information thus obtained would be quite useful for drug development and utilization. By hybridizing the informations of chemical-chemical interactions and chemical-chemical similarities, a novel method was developed for such purpose. It was observed by the jackknife test on a benchmark dataset of 3,883 drug compounds that the overall success rate achieved by the prediction method was about 73% in identifying the drugs among the following 14 main ATC-classes: (1) alimentary tract and metabolism; (2) blood and blood forming organs; (3) cardiovascular system; (4) dermatologicals; (5) genitourinary system and sex hormones; (6) systemic hormonal preparations, excluding sex hormones and insulins; (7) anti-infectives for systemic use; (8) antineoplastic and immunomodulating agents; (9) musculoskeletal system; (10) nervous system; (11) antiparasitic products, insecticides and repellents; (12) respiratory system; (13) sensory organs; (14) various. Such a success rate is substantially higher than 7% by the random guess. It has not escaped our notice that the current method can be straightforwardly extended to identify the drugs for their 2(nd)-level, 3(rd)-level, 4(th)-level, and 5(th)-level ATC-classifications once the statistically significant benchmark data are available for these lower levels.

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