Systematic analyses of drugs and disease indications in RepurposeDB reveal pharmacological, biological and epidemiological factors influencing drug repositioning

Khader Shameer, Benjamin S. Glicksberg, Rachel Hodos, Kipp W. Johnson, Marcus A. Badgeley, Ben Readhead, Max S. Tomlinson, Timothy O'Connor, Riccardo Miotto, Brian A. Kidd, Rong Chen, Avi Ma'Ayan, Joel T. Dudley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Increase in global population and growing disease burden due to the emergence of infectious diseases (Zika virus), multidrug-resistant pathogens, drug-resistant cancers (cisplatin-resistant ovarian cancer) and chronic diseases (arterial hypertension) necessitate effective therapies to improve health outcomes. However, the rapid increase in drug development cost demands innovative and sustainable drug discovery approaches. Drug repositioning, the discovery of new or improved therapies by reevaluation of approved or investigational compounds, solves a significant gap in the public health setting and improves the productivity of drug development. As the number of drug repurposing investigations increases, a new opportunity has emerged to understand factors driving drug repositioning through systematic analyses of drugs, drug targets and associated disease indications. However, such analyses have so far been hampered by the lack of a centralized knowledgebase, benchmarking data sets and reporting standards. To address these knowledge and clinical needs, here, we present RepurposeDB, a collection of repurposed drugs, drug targets and diseases, which was assembled, indexed and annotated from public data. RepurposeDB combines information on 253 drugs [small molecules (74.30%) and protein drugs (25.29%)] and 1125 diseases. Using RepurposeDB data, we identified pharmacological (chemical descriptors, physicochemical features and absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and toxicity properties), biological (protein domains, functional process, molecular mechanisms and pathway cross talks) and epidemiological (shared genetic architectures, disease comorbidities and clinical phenotype similarities) factors mediating drug repositioning. Collectively, RepurposeDB is developed as the reference database for drug repositioning investigations. The pharmacological, biological and epidemiological principles of drug repositioning identified from the meta-analyses could augment therapeutic development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)656-678
Number of pages23
JournalBriefings in bioinformatics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • drug development
  • drug discovery
  • drug repositioning
  • precision medicine
  • precision pharmacology
  • systems pharmacology
  • translational bioinformatics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Systematic analyses of drugs and disease indications in RepurposeDB reveal pharmacological, biological and epidemiological factors influencing drug repositioning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this