Position-aware deep multi-task learning for drug–drug interaction extraction

Deyu Zhou, Lei Miao, Yulan He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A drug–drug interaction (DDI) is a situation in which a drug affects the activity of another drug synergistically or antagonistically when being administered together. The information of DDIs is crucial for healthcare professionals to prevent adverse drug events. Although some known DDIs can be found in purposely-built databases such as DrugBank, most information is still buried in scientific publications. Therefore, automatically extracting DDIs from biomedical texts is sorely needed.

Methods and material
In this paper, we propose a novel position-aware deep multi-task learning approach for extracting DDIs from biomedical texts. In particular, sentences are represented as a sequence of word embeddings and position embeddings. An attention-based bidirectional long short-term memory (BiLSTM) network is used to encode each sentence. The relative position information of words with the target drugs in text is combined with the hidden states of BiLSTM to generate the position-aware attention weights. Moreover, the tasks of predicting whether or not two drugs interact with each other and further distinguishing the types of interactions are learned jointly in multi-task learning framework.

The proposed approach has been evaluated on the DDIExtraction challenge 2013 corpus and the results show that with the position-aware attention only, our proposed approach outperforms the state-of-the-art method by 0.99% for binary DDI classification, and with both position-aware attention and multi-task learning, our approach achieves a micro F-score of 72.99% on interaction type identification, outperforming the state-of-the-art approach by 1.51%, which demonstrates the effectiveness of the proposed approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalArtificial Intelligence in Medicine
Early online date17 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • Classification
  • Multi-task learning
  • Drug–drug interaction extraction
  • Long short-term memory network


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