Mining Twitter Hashtags to Find Unknown Drug Issues

June 30, 2015
Applied Clinical Trials Editorial Staff

Applied Clinical Trials

A team of scientists at the University of Vermont has invented a new technique for discovering potentially dangerous drug interactions and unknown side-effects using Twitter hashtags.

 

A team of scientists at the University of Vermont has invented a new technique for discovering potentially dangerous drug interactions and unknown side-effects using Twitter hashtags. 

Previous studies have shown that Twitter can be mined for bad drug interactions, but the Vermont team advances this idea by focusing on the distinctive information contained in hashtags-like “#overprescribed,” “#kidneystoneprobs,” and “#skinswelling”-to find new associations. The overall goal of the project, supported by the National Science Foundation, was to discover is to discover any relationship between two drugs that is not known.

Using their new algorithm, the team has created a website that will allow an investigator to explore the connections between search terms (say "albuterol"), existing scientific studies indexed in PubMed-and Twitter hashtags associated with the terms and studies.

A report on how the algorithm works, and its preliminary discoveries, was published online, June 8, in the Journal of Biomedical Informatics.

 

Read the full release here.

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