Institute of Crystallography - CNR

DeLA-Drug: A Deep Learning Algorithm for Automated Design of Druglike Analogues

In this paper, we present a deep learning algorithm for automated design of druglike analogues (DeLA-Drug), a recurrent neural network (RNN) model composed of two long short-term memory (LSTM) layers and conceived for data-driven generation of similar-to-bioactive compounds. DeLA-Drug captures the syntax of SMILES strings of more than 1 million compounds belonging to the ChEMBL28 database and, by employing a new strategy called sampling with substitutions (SWS), generates molecules starting from a single user-defined query compound. Remarkably, the algorithm preserves druglikeness and synthetic accessibility of the known bioactive compounds present in the ChEMBL28 repository. The absence of any time-demanding fine-tuning procedure enables DeLA-Drug to perform a fast generation of focused libraries for further high-throughput screening and makes it a suitable tool for performing de novo design even in low-data regimes. To provide a concrete idea of its applicability, DeLA-Drug was applied to the cannabinoid receptor subtype 2 (CB2R), a known target involved in different pathological conditions such as cancer and neurodegeneration. DeLA-Drug, available as a free web platform (, can help medicinal chemists interested in generating analogues of compounds already available in their laboratories and, for this reason, good candidates for an easy and low-cost synthesis.

Journal of chemical information and modeling
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Creanza, Teresa Maria; Lamanna, Giuseppe; Delre, Pietro; Contino, Marialessandra; Corriero, Nicola; Saviano, Michele; Mangiatordi, Giuseppe Felice; Ancona, Nicola