ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters – Automated Lead Optimization of MMP-12 Inhibitors Using a Genetic Algorithm
By Stephen D. Pickett, Darren V. S. Green, David L. Hunt, David A. Pardoe, and Ian Hughes.
Traditional lead optimization projects involve long synthesis and testing cycles, favoring extensive structure-activity relationship (SAR) analysis and molecular design steps, in an attempt to limit the number of cycles that a project must run to optimize a development candidate. Microfluidic-based chemistry and biology platforms, with cycle times of minutes rather than weeks, lend themselves to unattended autonomous operation. The bottleneck in the lead optimization process is therefore shifted from synthesis or test to SAR analysis and design. As such, the way is open to an algorithm-directed process, without the need for detailed user data analysis. Here, we present results of two synthesis and screening experiments, undertaken using traditional methodology, to validate a genetic algorithm optimization process for future application to a microfluidic system. The algorithm has several novel features that are important for the intended application. For example, it is robust to missing data and can suggest compounds for retest to ensure reliability of optimization. The algorithm is first validated on a retrospective analysis of an in-house library embedded in a larger virtual array of presumed inactive compounds. In a second, prospective experiment with MMP-12 as the target protein, 140 compounds are submitted for synthesis over 10 cycles of optimization. Comparison is made to the results from the full combinatorial library that was synthesized manually and tested independently. The results show that compounds selected by the algorithm are heavily biased toward the more active regions of the library, while the algorithm is robust to both missing data (compounds where synthesis failed) and inactive compounds. This publication places the full combinatorial library and biological data into the public domain with the intention of advancing research into algorithm-directed lead optimization methods.
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