Scaffold Hopping in Drug Discovery Using Inductive Logic Programming

J Chem Inf Model. 2008 May;48(5):949-57. doi: 10.1021/ci700418f. Epub 2008 May 6.


In chemoinformatics, searching for compounds which are structurally diverse and share a biological activity is called scaffold hopping. Scaffold hopping is important since it can be used to obtain alternative structures when the compound under development has unexpected side-effects. Pharmaceutical companies use scaffold hopping when they wish to circumvent prior patents for targets of interest. We propose a new method for scaffold hopping using inductive logic programming (ILP). ILP uses the observed spatial relationships between pharmacophore types in pretested active and inactive compounds and learns human-readable rules describing the diverse structures of active compounds. The ILP-based scaffold hopping method is compared to two previous algorithms (chemically advanced template search, CATS, and CATS3D) on 10 data sets with diverse scaffolds. The comparison shows that the ILP-based method is significantly better than random selection while the other two algorithms are not. In addition, the ILP-based method retrieves new active scaffolds which were not found by CATS and CATS3D. The results show that the ILP-based method is at least as good as the other methods in this study. ILP produces human-readable rules, which makes it possible to identify the three-dimensional features that lead to scaffold hopping. A minor variant of a rule learnt by ILP for scaffold hopping was subsequently found to cover an inhibitor identified by an independent study. This provides a successful result in a blind trial of the effectiveness of ILP to generate rules for scaffold hopping. We conclude that ILP provides a valuable new approach for scaffold hopping.

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence*
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Drug Design*