Drug repurposing

Drug repurposing (also known as drug repositioning, drug re-profiling or therapeutic switching) is the application of known drugs and compounds to new indications. 

I2E can be used to assess potential associations between compounds, their target proteins, and novel disease-related pathways, by comprehensive analysis of scientific literature.


With the large amount of pharmacological and biological knowledge available in literature, it has become increasingly feasible  to find  novel drug indications for existing drugs using an in silico approach.

Identifying alternative potential disease areas for an approved drug enables the drug to be repurposed for a new market at a fraction of the cost it takes to get a new drug to market. And patents can be filed that will extend the life cycle of a drug before it is subjected to competition from generic alternatives, thus having a significant impact on sales and profitability.

Tactics for using I2E for drug repurposing include exploiting the existing domain knowledge (around drugs, diseases, and mechanisms) to scan literature and other textual resources systematically and exhaustively, to identify and validate relationships between these entities.


Thalidomide, originally sold in Europe in the 1950s for morning sickness, caused severe skeletal birth defects. The figure shows a network graph linking thalidomide to angiogenesis, from an I2E query of Medline abstracts. The network links Thalidomide (pink hexagon) to angiogenenic processes (purple triangle) via a set of mutually interacting genes (see central set of genes in green squares), and indeed this mechanism of action of Thalidomide is now being exploited as treatments for erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL), multiple myeloma, and other cancers.