Computational Modelling in Drug Discovery : Application of Structure-Based Drug Design, Conformal Prediction and Evaluation of Virtual Screening

Abstract: Structure-based drug design and virtual screening are areas of computational medicinal chemistry that use 3D models of target proteins. It is important to develop better methods in this field with the aim of increasing the speed and quality of early stage drug discovery.The first part of this thesis focuses on the application of structure-based drug design in the search for inhibitors for the protein 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR), one of the enzymes in the DOXP/MEP synthetic pathway. This pathway is found in many bacteria (such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and in the parasite Plasmodium falciparum.In order to evaluate and improve current virtual screening methods, a benchmarking data set was constructed using publically available high-throughput screening data. The exercise highlighted a number of problems with current data sets as well as with the use of publically available high-throughput screening data. We hope this work will help guide further development of well designed benchmarking data sets for virtual screening methods.Conformal prediction is a new method in the computer-aided drug design toolbox that gives the prediction range at a specified level of confidence for each compound. To demonstrate the versatility and applicability of this method we derived models of skin permeability using two different machine learning methods; random forest and support vector machines.