Background: Accurate classification of patients with a complex disease into subtypes has important implications for medicine and healthcare. Using more homogeneous disease subtypes in genetic association analysis will facilitate the detection of new genetic variants that are not detectible using the non-differentiated disease phenotype. Subtype differentiation can also improve diagnostic classification, which can in turn inform clinical decision making and treatment matching. Currently, the most sophisticated methods for disease subtyping perform cluster analysis using patients' clinical features. Without guidance from genetic information, the resultant subtypes are likely to be suboptimal and efforts at genetic association may fail.
Results: We propose a multi-view matrix decomposition approach that integrates clinical features with genetic markers to detect confirmatory evidence for a disease subtype. This approach groups patients into clusters that are consistent between the clinical and genetic dimensions of data; it simultaneously identifies the clinical features that define the subtype and the genotypes associated with the subtype. A simulation study validated the proposed approach, showing that it identified hypothesized subtypes and associated features. In comparison to the latest biclustering and multi-view data analytics using real-life disease data, the proposed approach identified clinical subtypes of a disease that differed from each other more significantly in the genetic markers, thus demonstrating the superior performance of the proposed approach.
Conclusions: The proposed algorithm is an effective and superior alternative to the disease subtyping methods employed to date. Integration of phenotypic features with genetic markers in the subtyping analysis is a promising approach to identify concurrently disease subtypes and their genetic associations.