Keywords: [ benchmark ] [ drug discovery ]
In vitro cellular experimentation with genetic interventions, using for example CRISPR technologies, is an essential step in early-stage drug discovery and target validation that serves to assess initial hypotheses about causal associations between biological mechanisms and disease pathologies. With billions of potential hypotheses to test, the experimental design space for in vitro genetic experiments is extremely vast, and the available experimental capacity - even at the largest research institutions in the world - pales in relation to the size of this biological hypothesis space. Machine learning methods, such as active and reinforcement learning, could aid in optimally exploring the vast biological space by integrating prior knowledge from various information sources as well as extrapolating to yet unexplored areas of the experimental design space based on available data. However, there exist no standardised benchmarks and data sets for this challenging task and little research has been conducted in this area to date. Here, we introduce GeneDisco, a benchmark suite for evaluating active learning algorithms for experimental design in drug discovery. GeneDisco contains a curated set of multiple publicly available experimental data sets as well as open-source implementations of state-of-the-art active learning policies for experimental design and exploration.