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In Scientific reports ; h5-index 158.0

Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease. To guide proper treatment decisions for each patient, robust prognostic biomarkers, which allow reliable prognosis prediction, are necessary. Gene feature selection based on microarray data is an approach to discover potential biomarkers systematically. However, standard pure-statistical feature selection approaches often fail to incorporate prior biological knowledge and select genes that lack biological insights. Besides, due to the high dimensionality and low sample size properties of microarray data, selecting robust gene features is an intrinsically challenging problem. We hence combined systems biology feature selection with ensemble learning in this study, aiming to select genes with biological insights and robust prognostic predictive power. Moreover, to capture breast cancer's complex molecular processes, we adopted a multi-gene approach to predict the prognosis status using deep learning classifiers. We found that all ensemble approaches could improve feature selection robustness, wherein the hybrid ensemble approach led to the most robust result. Among all prognosis prediction models, the bimodal deep neural network (DNN) achieved the highest test performance, further verified by survival analysis. In summary, this study demonstrated the potential of combining ensemble learning and bimodal DNN in guiding precision medicine.

Cheng Li-Hsin, Hsu Te-Cheng, Lin Che