Neural networks as robust tools in drug lead discovery and development

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Empirical methods for building predictive models of the relationships between molecular structure and useful properties are becoming increasingly important. This has arisen because drug discovery and development have become more complex. A large amount of biological target information is becoming available though molecular biology. Automation of chemical synthesis and pharmacological screening has also provided a vast amount of experimental data. Tools for designing libraries and extracting information from molecular databases and high-throughput screening (HTS) experiments robustly and quickly enable leads to be discovered more effectively. As drug leads progress down the development pipeline, the ability to predict physicochemical, pharmacokinetic, and toxicological properties of these leads is becoming increasingly important in reducing the number of expensive, late-development failures. Neural network methods have much to offer in these areas. This review introduces the concepts behind neural networks applied to quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs), points out problems that may be encountered, suggests ways of avoiding the pitfalls, and introduces several exciting new neural network methods discovered during the last decade. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-167
Number of pages29
JournalApplied Biochemistry and Biotechnology - Part B Molecular Biotechnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • ADMET properties
  • Combinatorial chemistry
  • Drug design
  • Molecular descriptors
  • Neural networks
  • QSAR
  • Structure-activity relationships

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