Application of Artificial Neural Networks to Predict the Intrinsic Solubility of Drug-Like Molecules

Pharmaceutics. 2021 Jul 20;13(7):1101. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics13071101.


Machine learning (ML) approaches are receiving increasing attention from pharmaceutical companies and regulatory agencies, given their ability to mine knowledge from available data. In drug discovery, for example, they are employed in quantitative structure-property relationship (QSPR) models to predict biological properties from the chemical structure of a drug molecule. In this paper, following the Second Solubility Challenge (SC-2), a QSPR model based on artificial neural networks (ANNs) was built to predict the intrinsic solubility (logS0) of the 100-compound low-variance tight set and the 32-compound high-variance loose set provided by SC-2 as test datasets. First, a training dataset of 270 drug-like molecules with logS0 value experimentally determined was gathered from the literature. Then, a standard three-layer feed-forward neural network was defined by using 10 ChemGPS physico-chemical descriptors as input features. The developed ANN showed adequate predictive performances on both of the SC-2 test datasets. Benefits and limitations of ML approaches have been highlighted and discussed, starting from this case-study. The main findings confirmed that ML approaches are an attractive and promising tool to predict logS0; however, many aspects, such as data quality, molecular descriptor computation and selection, and assessment of applicability domain, are crucial but often neglected, and should be carefully considered to improve predictions based on ML.

Keywords: QSPR; artificial neural networks; intrinsic aqueous solubility; machine learning.