A large-scale evaluation of NLP-derived chemical-gene/protein relationships from the scientific literature: Implications for knowledge graph construction

PLoS One. 2023 Sep 8;18(9):e0291142. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0291142. eCollection 2023.


One area of active research is the use of natural language processing (NLP) to mine biomedical texts for sets of triples (subject-predicate-object) for knowledge graph (KG) construction. While statistical methods to mine co-occurrences of entities within sentences are relatively robust, accurate relationship extraction is more challenging. Herein, we evaluate the Global Network of Biomedical Relationships (GNBR), a dataset that uses distributional semantics to model relationships between biomedical entities. The focus of our paper is an evaluation of a subset of the GNBR data; the relationships between chemicals and genes/proteins. We use Evotec’s structured ‘Nexus’ database of >2.76M chemical-protein interactions as a ground truth to compare with GNBRs relationships and find a micro-averaged precision-recall area under the curve (AUC) of 0.50 and a micro-averaged receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve AUC of 0.71 across the relationship classes ‘inhibits’, ‘binding’, ‘agonism’ and ‘antagonism’, when a comparison is made on a sentence-by-sentence basis. We conclude that, even though these micro-average scores are modest, using a high threshold on certain relationship classes like ‘inhibits’ could yield high fidelity triples that are not reported in structured datasets. We discuss how different methods of processing GNBR data, and the factuality of triples could affect the accuracy of NLP data incorporated into knowledge graphs. We provide a GNBR-Nexus(ChEMBL-subset) merged datafile that contains over 20,000 sentences where a protein/gene-chemical co-occur and includes both the GNBR relationship scores as well as the ChEMBL (manually curated) relationships (e.g., ‘agonist’, ‘inhibitor’) -this can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.8136752. We envisage this being used to aid curation efforts by the drug discovery community.

PMID:37682956 | PMC:PMC10490933 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0291142


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