Community assessment to advance computational prediction of cancer drug combinations in a pharmacogenomic screen

AstraZeneca-Sanger Drug Combination DREAM Consortium

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141 Scopus citations


The effectiveness of most cancer targeted therapies is short-lived. Tumors often develop resistance that might be overcome with drug combinations. However, the number of possible combinations is vast, necessitating data-driven approaches to find optimal patient-specific treatments. Here we report AstraZeneca’s large drug combination dataset, consisting of 11,576 experiments from 910 combinations across 85 molecularly characterized cancer cell lines, and results of a DREAM Challenge to evaluate computational strategies for predicting synergistic drug pairs and biomarkers. 160 teams participated to provide a comprehensive methodological development and benchmarking. Winning methods incorporate prior knowledge of drug-target interactions. Synergy is predicted with an accuracy matching biological replicates for >60% of combinations. However, 20% of drug combinations are poorly predicted by all methods. Genomic rationale for synergy predictions are identified, including ADAM17 inhibitor antagonism when combined with PIK3CB/D inhibition contrasting to synergy when combined with other PI3K-pathway inhibitors in PIK3CA mutant cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2674
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer and COSMIC teams at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute for help with the preparation of the molecular data, Denes Turei for help with Omnipath, and Katjusa Koler for help with matching drug names across combination screens. We thank AstraZeneca for funding and provision of data to the DREAM Consortium to run the challenge, and funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 research (under grant agreement No 668858 PrECISE to J.S.R.), the Joint Research Center for Computational Biomedicine (which is partially funded by Bayer AG) to J.S.R., National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Sheffield Biomedical Research Center, Premium Postdoctoral Fellowship Program of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. M.G lab is supported by Wellcome Trust (102696 and 206194).

Funding Information:
Competing interests: K.C.B., Z.G., G.Y.D., E.K.Y.T., S.F., and J.R.D. are AstraZeneca employees. K.C.B., Z.G., E.K.Y.T., S.F., and J.R.D. are AstraZeneca shareholders. Y.G. receives personal compensation from Eli Lilly and Company, is a shareholder of Cleerly, Inc., and Ann Arbor Algorithms, Inc. M.G. receives research funding from AstraZeneca and has performed consultancy for Sanofi. The remaining authors declare no competing interests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).


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