August 18, 2010

Dealing with sparse data in predicting outcomes of HIV combination therapies

Filed under: Bioinformatics — Biointelligence: Education,Training & Consultancy Services @ 6:26 am

As there exists no cure or vaccine for the infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the standard approach to treating HIV patients is to repeatedly administer different combinations of several antiretroviral drugs. Because of the large number of possible drug combinations, manually finding a successful regimen becomes practically impossible. This presents a major challenge for HIV treatment. The application of machine learning methods for predicting virological responses to potential therapies is a possible approach to solving this problem. However, due to evolving trends in treating HIV patients the available clinical datasets have a highly unbalanced representation, which might negatively affect the usefulness of derived statistical models.

Results: This article presents an approach that tackles the problem of predicting virological response to combination therapies by learning a separate logistic regression model for each therapy. The models are fitted by using not only the data from the target therapy but also the information from similar therapies. For this purpose, we introduce and evaluate two different measures of therapy similarity. The models are also able to incorporate phenotypic knowledge on the therapy outcomes through a Gaussian prior. With our approach we balance the uneven therapy representation in the datasets and produce higher quality models for therapies with very few training samples. According to the results from the computational experiments our therapy similarity model performs significantly better than training separate models for each therapy by using solely their examples. Furthermore, the model’s performance is as good as an approach that encodes therapy information in the input feature space with the advantage of delivering better results for therapies with very few training samples.

Availability: Code of the efficient logistic regression is available from

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