Cold-Start Problems in Data-Driven Prediction of Drug-Drug Interaction Effects

Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2021 May 2;14(5):429. doi: 10.3390/ph14050429.


Combining drugs, a phenomenon often referred to as polypharmacy, can induce additional adverse effects. The identification of adverse combinations is a key task in pharmacovigilance. In this context, in silico approaches based on machine learning are promising as they can learn from a limited number of combinations to predict for all. In this work, we identify various subtasks in predicting effects caused by drug-drug interaction. Predicting drug-drug interaction effects for drugs that already exist is very different from predicting outcomes for newly developed drugs, commonly called a cold-start problem. We propose suitable validation schemes for the different subtasks that emerge. These validation schemes are critical to correctly assess the performance. We develop a new model that obtains AUC-ROC =0.843 for the hardest cold-start task up to AUC-ROC =0.957 for the easiest one on the benchmark dataset of Zitnik et al. Finally, we illustrate how our predictions can be used to improve post-market surveillance systems or detect drug-drug interaction effects earlier during drug development.

Keywords: cold-start problems; cross-validation; drug–drug interaction; machine learning; polypharmacy; prediction.