Predicting the Potency of Anti-Alzheimer’s Drug Combinations Using Machine Learning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clinical trials of single drugs intended to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) have been notoriously unsuccessful. Combinations of repurposed drugs could provide effective treatments for AD. The challenge is to identify potentially effective combinations. To meet this challenge, machine learning (ML) was used to extract the knowledge from two leading AD databases, and then “the machine” predicted which combinations of the drugs in common between the two databases would be the most effective as treatments for AD. Specifically, three-layered artificial neural networks (ANNs) with compound, gated units in their internal layer were trained using ML to predict the cognitive scores of participants, separately in either database, given other data fields including age, demographic variables, comorbidities, and drugs taken. The predictions from the separately trained ANNs were statistically highly significantly correlated. The best drug combinations, jointly determined from both sets of predictions, were high in nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; anticoagulant, lipid-lowering, and antihypertensive drugs; and female hormones. The results suggest that the neurodegenerative processes that underlie AD and other dementias could be effectively treated using a combination of repurposed drugs. Predicted drug combinations could be evaluated in clinical trials.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number264
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Artificial neural network
  • Drug combination
  • Drug repurposing
  • Machine learning
  • Multifactorial disorder
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Polypharmacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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