- Virtual chemical reactions for drug design (2009)
- Two methods for the fast, fragment-based combinatorial molecule assembly were developed. The software COLIBREE® (Combinatorial Library Breeding) generates candidate structures from scratch, based on stochastic optimization . Result structures of a COLIBREE design run are based on a fixed scaffold and variable linkers and side-chains. Linkers representing virtual chemical reactions and side-chain building blocks obtained from pseudo-retrosynthetic dissection of large compound databases are exchanged during optimization. The process of molecule design employs a discrete version of Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) . Assembled compounds are scored according to their similarity to known reference ligands. Distance to reference molecules is computed in the space of the topological pharmacophore descriptor CATS . In a case study, the approach was applied to the de novo design of potential peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR gamma) selective agonists. In a second approach, we developed the formal grammar Reaction-MQL  for the in silico representation and application of chemical reactions. Chemical transformation schemes are defined by functional groups participating in known organic reactions. The substructures are specified by the linear Molecular Query Language (MQL) . The developed software package contains a parser for Reaction-MQL-expressions and enables users to design, test and virtually apply chemical reactions. The program has already been used to create combinatorial libraries for virtual screening studies. It was also applied in fragmentation studies with different sets of retrosynthetic reactions and various compound libraries.
- Development of a computational method for reaction-driven de novo design of druglike compounds (2010)
- A new method for computer-based de novo design of drug candidate structures is proposed. DOGS (Design of Genuine Structures) features a ligand-based strategy to suggest new molecular structures. The quality of designed compounds is assessed by a graph kernel method measuring the distance of designed molecules to a known reference ligand. Two graph representations of molecules (molecular graph and reduced graph) are implemented to feature different levels of abstraction from the molecular structure. A fully deterministic construction procedure explicitly designed to facilitate synthesizability of proposed structures is realized: DOGS uses readily available synthesis building blocks and established reaction schemes to assemble new molecules. This approach enables the software to propose not only the final compounds, but also to give suggestions for synthesis routes to generate them at the bench. The set of synthesis schemes comprises about 83 chemical reactions. Special focus was put on ring closure reactions forming drug-like substructures. The library of building blocks consists of about 25,000 readily available synthesis building blocks. DOGS builds up new structures in a stepwise process. Each virtual synthesis step adds a fragment to the growing molecule until a stop criterion (upper threshold for molecular mass or number of synthesis steps) is fulfilled. In a theoretical evaluation, a set of ~1,800 molecules proposed by DOGS is analyzed for critical properties of de novo designed compounds. The software is able to suggest drug-like molecules (79% violate less than two of Lipinski’s ‘rule of five’). In addition, a trained classifier for drug-likeness assigns a score >0.8 to 51% of the designed molecules (with 1.0 being the top score). In addition, most of the DOGS molecules are deemed to be synthesizable by a retro-synthesis descriptor (77% of molecules score in the top 10% of the decriptor’s value range). Calculated logP(o/w) values of constructed molecules resemble a unimodal distribution centred close to the mean of logP(o/w) values calculated for the reference compounds. A structural analysis of selected designs reveals that DOGS is capable of constructing molecules reflecting the overall topological arrangement of pharmacophoric features found in the reference ligands. At the same time, the DOGS designs represent innovative compounds being structurally distinct from the references. Synthesis routes for these examples are short and seem feasible in most cases. Some reaction steps might need modification by using protecting groups to avoid unwanted side reactions. Plausible bioisosters for known privileged fragments addressing the S1 pocket of trypsin were proposed by DOGS in a case study. Three of them can be found in known trypsin inhibitors as S1-adressing side chains. The software was also tested in two prospective case studies to design bioactive compounds. DOGS was applied to design ligands for human gamma-secretase and human histamine receptor subtype 4 (hH4R). Two selected designs for gamma-secretase were readily synthesizable as suggested by the software in one-step reactions. Both compounds represent inverse modulators of the target molecule. In a second case study, a ligand candidate selected for hH4R was synthesized exactly following the three-step synthesis plan suggested by DOGS. This compound showed low activity on the target structure. The concept of DOGS is able to deliver synthesizable and bioactive compounds. Suggested synthesis plans of selected compounds were readily pursuable. DOGS can therefore serve as a valuable idea generator for the design of new pharmacological active compounds.
- DOGS: reaction-driven de novo design of bioactive compounds (2012)
- We present a computational method for the reaction-based de novo design of drug-like molecules. The software DOGS (Design of Genuine Structures) features a ligand-based strategy for automated ‘in silico’ assembly of potentially novel bioactive compounds. The quality of the designed compounds is assessed by a graph kernel method measuring their similarity to known bioactive reference ligands in terms of structural and pharmacophoric features. We implemented a deterministic compound construction procedure that explicitly considers compound synthesizability, based on a compilation of 25'144 readily available synthetic building blocks and 58 established reaction principles. This enables the software to suggest a synthesis route for each designed compound. Two prospective case studies are presented together with details on the algorithm and its implementation. De novo designed ligand candidates for the human histamine H4 receptor and γ-secretase were synthesized as suggested by the software. The computational approach proved to be suitable for scaffold-hopping from known ligands to novel chemotypes, and for generating bioactive molecules with drug-like properties.