AI and transcriptomics identify dual targets for ageing and cancer

Ageing hands

An international research team is the first to use artificial intelligence (AI) analysis to identify dual-purpose target candidates for the treatment of cancer and ageing.

Researchers from the University of Oslo, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and Insilico Medicine used Insilico’s AI target discovery engine, PandaOmics, to analyse transcriptomic data derived from 16,740 healthy samples and 11,303 tumours (across 11 solid cancers).

They identified and classified a number of potential age-associated cancer targets and validated one of most promising candidates.

Insilico founder and CEO Alex Zhavoronkov, one of the study’s authors, said: “With this study, we have not only identified a promising dual-purpose target for ageing and disease, but validated it experimentally – which we see as an important first step in the development of dual-purpose treatments.”

In the study, the researchers used PandaOmics to select 51 age-associated cancer targets. Of these, 22 were proposed as dual-purpose targets for anti-ageing and anti-cancer treatment with the same therapeutic direction.

Researchers next zeroed in on dual-purpose genes of interest, and found that one in particular – histone demethylase, or KDM1A, significantly extended lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans, a simple model organism. KDM1A’s anti-cancer activities have already been established in both preclinical and clinical studies, including in colorectal and triple negative breast cancers. With these latest findings, KDM1A shows promise as the first AI-identified dual-purpose target for anti-ageing and anti-cancer.

“We were very encouraged by the findings,” said Evgeny Izumchenko, Assistant Professor of Medicine at UChicago in the section of haematology and oncology. “This is a first study showing the feasibility of AI-driven approaches to identify potential dual-purpose targets for anti-ageing and anti-cancer treatment, and clearly demonstrates the value of such tools in addressing the complex challenges at the interface between ageing and carcinogenesis.”

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