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  • Poster presentation
  • Open Access

Rational, computer-aided design of multi-target ligands

Journal of Cheminformatics20113 (Suppl 1) :P10

  • Published:


  • Random Forest
  • Isolate System
  • Multiple Target
  • Weak Inhibition
  • Unwanted Side Effect

Over the past two decades the “one drug – one target – one disease” concept became the prevalent paradigm in drug discovery. The main idea of this approach is the identification of a single protein target whose inhibition leads to a successful treatment of the examined disease. The predominant assumption is that highly selective ligands would avoid unwanted side effects caused by binding to secondary non-therapeutic targets.

In recent years the results of post-genomic and network biology showed that proteins rarely act in isolated systems but rather as a part of a highly connected network [1]. In addition this connectivity leads to more robust systems that cannot be interfered by the inhibition of a single target of that network and consequently might not lead to the desired therapeutic effect [2]. Furthermore studies prove that robust systems are rather affected by weak inhibitions of several parts than by a complete inhibition of a single selected element of that system [3].

Therefore there is an increasing interest in developing drugs that take effect on multiple targets simultaneously but is concurrently a great challenge for medicinal chemists. There has to be a sufficient activity on each target as well as an adequate pharmacokinetic profile [4]. Early design strategies tried to link the pharmacophors of known inhibitors, however these methods often lead to high molecular weight and low ligand efficacy.

We present a new rational approach based on a retrosynthetic combinatorial analysis procedure [5] on approved ligands of multiple targets. These RECAP fragments are used to design a large combinatorial library containing molecules featuring chemical properties of each ligand class. The molecules are further validated by machine learning models, like random forests and self-organizing maps, regarding their activity on the targets of interest.

Authors’ Affiliations

Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Goethe University, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany


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© Achenbach and Proschak; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2011

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.