Novel drug candidates for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer through global inverse gene expression profiling.
Drug-induced gene expression profiles that invert disease profiles have recently been illustrated to be a starting point for drug-repositioning. In this study, we validate this approach and focus on prediction of novel drugs for colorectal cancer (CRC), for which there is a pressing need to find novel anti-metastatic compounds. We computationally predicted three novel and still unknown compounds against CRC; citalopram (an anti-depressant), troglitazone (an anti-diabetic) and enilconazole (a fungicide). We verified the compounds by in vitro assays of clonogenic survival, proliferation and migration and in a subcutaneous mouse model. We found evidence that the mode-of-action of these compounds may be through inhibition of TGF-β signaling. Furthermore, one compound, citalopram, reduced tumor size as well as the number of circulating tumor cells and metastases in an orthotopic mouse model of CRC. This study proposes citalopram as a potential therapeutic option for CRC patients illustrating the potential of systems pharmacology.