Biology

Large-scale investigation of the reasons why potentially important genes are ignored

by Thomas Stoeger, Martin Gerlach, Richard I. Morimoto, Luís A. Nunes Amaral

Biomedical research has been previously reported to primarily focus on a minority of all known genes. Here, we demonstrate that these differences in attention can be explained, to a large extent, exclusively from a small set of identifiable chemical, physical, and biological properties of genes. Together with knowledge about homologous genes from model organisms, these features allow us to accurately predict the number of publications on individual human genes, the year of their first report, the levels of funding awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the development of drugs against disease-associated genes. By explicitly identifying the reasons for gene-specific bias and performing a meta-analysis of existing computational and experimental knowledge bases, we describe gene-specific strategies for the identification of important but hitherto ignored genes that can open novel directions for future investigation.

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