A simple test for synergy for a small number of combinations



A method for detecting deviations from the Loewe additive drug combination reference model for in vitro drug combination experimentation is described. It is often difficult to fit a response surface model to drug combination data, especially in situations where the experimental design contains a sparse set of combinations. The literature does contain good response surface modeling approaches, but they tend to be complex and can be difficult to execute. It is especially difficult to check model quality when fitting to more than two combined agents. A simple method based on sound statistical principles is proposed that examines the mean response deviation of each combination from the predicted response under Loewe additivity. The method can readily handle any number of combined agents, does not require sophisticated modeling, and can even be programmed into Microsoft Excel without the use of macros. Several potential extensions to the method are discussed in detail. Computer-generated simulations demonstrate the statistical capabilities of the approach, and a real-data example is given to illustrate the method. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.