Scientists from Germany and Denmark may have found a way to predict new uses for existing drugs by taking a closer look at the medications’ adverse effects (Campillos M et al. Science. 2008;321:263-266).
Adverse effects are often triggered when a medication interacts with proteins other than the drug's intended target. Reasoning that chemically dissimilar drugs with similar adverse effects might sometimes act on the same target protein, the researchers reviewed drug-package inserts of 746 marketed drugs and developed a computational method to compare “side-effect similarities” of various drugs.
Stephenson J. Drugs’ Adverse Effects. JAMA. 2008;300(7):782. doi:10.1001/jama.300.7.782-c