Finding gene-disease and disease-disease associations play important roles in the biomedical area and many prioritization methods have been proposed for this goal. Among them, approaches based on a heterogeneous network of genes and diseases are considered state-of-the-art ones, which achieve high prediction performance and can be used for diseases with/without known molecular basis.
Here, we developed a Cytoscape app, namely HGPEC, based on a random walk with restart algorithm on a heterogeneous network of genes and diseases. This app can prioritize candidate genes and diseases by employing a heterogeneous network consisting of a network of genes/proteins and a phenotypic disease similarity network. Based on the rankings, novel disease-gene and disease-disease associations can be identified. These associations can be supported with network- and rank-based visualization as well as evidences and annotations from biomedical data. A case study on prediction of novel breast cancer-associated genes and diseases shows the abilities of HGPEC. In addition, we showed prominence in the performance of HGPEC compared to other tools for prioritization of candidate disease genes.
Taken together, our app is expected to effectively predict novel disease-gene and disease-disease associations and support network- and rank-based visualization as well as biomedical evidences for such the associations.