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Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 Jul 2022 - 8 Jul 2022


2022 Jul 05

PLoS Comput Biol



ATRPred: A machine learning based tool for clinical decision making of anti-TNF treatment in rheumatoid arthritis patients.


Prasad B, McGeough C, Eakin A, Ahmed T, Small D, Gardiner P, Pendleton A, Wright G, Bjourson AJ, Gibson DS, Shukla P
PLoS Comput Biol. 2022 Jul 05; 18(7):e1010204.
PMID: 35788746.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune condition, characterised by joint pain, damage and disability, which can be addressed in a high proportion of patients by timely use of targeted biologic treatments. However, the patients, non-responsive to the treatments often suffer from refractoriness of the disease, leading to poor quality of life. Additionally, the biologic treatments are expensive. We obtained plasma samples from N = 144 participants with RA, who were about to commence anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy. These samples were sent to Olink Proteomics, Uppsala, Sweden, where proximity extension assays of 4 panels, containing 92 proteins each, were performed. A total of n = 89 samples of patients passed the quality control. The preliminary analysis of plasma protein expression values suggested that the RA population could be divided into two distinct molecular sub-groups (endotypes). However, these broad groups did not predict response to anti-TNF treatment, but were significantly different in terms of gender and their disease activity. We then labelled these patients as responders (n = 60) and non-responders (n = 29) based on the change in disease activity score (DAS) after 6 months of anti-TNF treatment and applied machine learning (ML) with a rigorous 5-fold nested cross-validation scheme to filter 17 proteins that were significantly associated with the treatment response. We have developed a ML based classifier ATRPred (anti-TNF treatment response predictor), which can predict anti-TNF treatment response in RA patients with 81% accuracy, 75% sensitivity and 86% specificity. ATRPred may aid clinicians to direct anti-TNF therapy to patients most likely to receive benefit, thus save cost as well as prevent non-responsive patients from refractory consequences. ATRPred is implemented in R.