Speaker Abstract RCMM 2017: Dr. Niranjan Nagarajan

Dr Niranjan Nagarajan


Existing cancer driver prediction methods are based on very different assumptions and each of them can only detect a particular subset of driver genes. Here we perform a comprehensive assessment of 18 driver prediction methods on more than 3,400 tumor samples from 15 cancer types, all to determine their suitability in guiding precision medicine efforts. We categorized these methods into five groups: functional impact on proteins in general (FI) or specific to cancer (FIC), cohort-based analysis for recurrent mutations (CBA), mutations with expression correlation (MEC), and methods that use gene interaction network-based analysis (INA). The performance of driver prediction methods varied considerably, with concordance with a gold-standard varying from 9% to 68%. FI methods showed relatively poor performance (concordance <22%) while CBA methods provided conservative results but required large sample sizes for high sensitivity. INA methods, through the integration of genomic and transcriptomic data, and FIC methods, by training cancer-specific models, provided the best trade-off between sensitivity and specificity. As the methods were found to predict different subsets of driver genes, we propose a novel consensus-based approach, ConsensusDriver, which significantly improves the quality of predictions (20% increase in sensitivity) in patient subgroups or even individual patients. Consensus-based methods like ConsensusDriver promise to harness the strengths of different driver prediction paradigms.