BACKGROUND: In recent years, the number of High Throughput Screening (HTS) assays deposited in PubChem has grown quickly. As a result, the volume of both the structured information (i.e. molecular structure, bioactivities) and the unstructured information (such as descriptions of bioassay experiments), has been increasing exponentially. As a result, it has become even more demanding and challenging to efficiently assemble the bioactivity data by mining the huge amount of information to identify and interpret the relationships among the diversified bioassay experiments. In this work, we propose a text-mining based approach for bioassay neighboring analysis from the unstructured text descriptions contained in the PubChem BioAssay database. RESULTS: The neighboring analysis is achieved by evaluating the cosine scores of each bioassay pair and fraction of overlaps among the human-curated neighbors. Our results from the cosine score distribution analysis and assay neighbor clustering analysis on all PubChem bioassays suggest that strong correlations among the bioassays can be identified from their conceptual relevance. A comparison with other existing assay neighboring methods suggests that the text-mining based bioassay neighboring approach provides meaningful linkages among the PubChem bioassays, and complements the existing methods by identifying additional relationships among the bioassay entries. CONCLUSIONS: The text-mining based bioassay neighboring analysis is efficient for correlating bioassays and studying different aspects of a biological process, which are otherwise difficult to achieve by existing neighboring procedures due to the lack of specific annotations and structured information. It is suggested that the text-mining based bioassay neighboring analysis can be used as a standalone or as a complementary tool for the PubChem bioassay neighboring process to enable efficient integration of assay results and generate hypotheses for the discovery of bioactivities of the tested reagents.
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