Ideal drug combinations that researchers have now identified could help prevent inflammation.
These findings could be the first step in the development of new drug combinations to combat severe diseases and conditions.
The multi-disciplinary team of researchers, led by Professor Douglas Kell, Professor of Bioanalytical Science at The University of Manchester, developed an evolutionary computer programme, which rapidly sifted through nine billion different combinations of potential drugs.
Sorting and testing 50 drug combinations at a time using robotics in the laboratory, the scientists were able to find effective combinations and then refine them as many times as necessary to find ideal combinations.
Ultimately, they hope this will lead to the development of tailored therapies for treating inflammation.
"Most diseases have complex causes. This makes their analysis a problem of systems biology, and to find novel therapies multiple targets need to be attacked at once," Professor Kell, who is also Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, said.
"We have devised a strategy, based on Darwinian evolution, to make this considerably easier. Although our immediate interest is inflammation and conditions such as stroke, our approach is universal and is thus applicable to all complex diseases."
Another advantage of choosing ideal drug combinations is that it allows patients to take smaller doses, which reduces potential toxicology concerns.
The findings have been published in Nature Chemical Biology.