NeurIPS 2018
Workshop paper

PaccMann: Prediction of anticancer compound sensitivity with multi-modal attention-based neural networks

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We present a novel approach for the prediction of anticancer compound sensitivity by means of multi-modal attention-based neural networks (PaccMann). In our approach, we integrate three key pillars of drug sensitivity, namely, the molecular structure of compounds, transcriptomic profiles of cancer cells as well as prior knowledge about interactions among proteins within cells. Our models ingest a drug-cell pair consisting of SMILES encoding of a compound and the gene expression profile of a cancer cell and predicts an IC50 sensitivity value. Gene expression profiles are encoded using an attention-based encoding mechanism that assigns high weights to the most informative genes. We present and study three encoders for SMILES string of compounds: 1) bidirectional recurrent 2) convolutional 3) attention-based encoders. We compare our devised models against a baseline model that ingests engineered fingerprints to represent the molecular structure. We demonstrate that using our attention-based encoders, we can surpass the baseline model. The use of attention-based encoders enhance interpretability and enable us to identify genes, bonds and atoms that were used by the network to make a prediction.