Cell Reports Methods
Identifying biomarkers to predict the clinical outcomes of individual patients is a fundamental problem in clinical oncology. Multiple single-gene biomarkers have already been identified and used in clinics. However, multiple oncogenes or tumor-suppressor genes are involved during the process of tumorigenesis. Additionally, the efficacy of single-gene biomarkers is limited by the extensively variable expression levels measured by high-throughput assays. In this study, we hypothesize that in individual tumor samples, the disruption of transcription homeostasis in key pathways or gene sets plays an important role in tumorigenesis and has profound implications for the patient's clinical outcome. We devised a computational method named iPath to identify, at the individual-sample level, which pathways or gene sets significantly deviate from their norms. We conducted a pan-cancer analysis and demonstrated that iPath is capable of identifying highly predictive biomarkers for clinical outcomes, including overall survival, tumor subtypes, and tumor-stage classifications.