Here we present an innovative computational-based drug discovery strategy, coupled with machine-based learning and functional assessment, for the rational design of novel small molecule inhibitors of the lipogenic enzyme stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 (SCD1). Our methods resulted in the discovery of several unique molecules, of which our lead compound SSI-4 demonstrates potent anti-tumor activity, with an excellent pharmacokinetic and toxicology profile. We improve upon key characteristics, including chemoinformatics and absorption/distribution/metabolism/excretion (ADME) toxicity, while driving the IC50 to 0.6 nM in some instances. This approach to drug design can be executed in smaller research settings, applied to a wealth of other targets, and paves a path forward for bringing small-batch based drug programs into the Clinic.
Keywords: cancer; drug discovery; high throughput drug screening; lipid metabolism; stearoyl CoA desaturase.