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In Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)

Virtual screening (VS) is a computational practice applied in drug discovery research. VS is popularly applied in a computer-based search for new lead molecules based on molecular similarity searching. In chemical databases similarity searching is used to identify molecules that have similarities to a user-defined reference structure and is evaluated by quantitative measures of intermolecular structural similarity. Among existing approaches, 2D fingerprints are widely used. The similarity of a reference structure and a database structure is measured by the computation of association coefficients. In most classical similarity approaches, it is assumed that the molecular features in both biological and non-biologically-related activity carry the same weight. However, based on the chemical structure, it has been found that some distinguishable features are more important than others. Hence, this difference should be taken consideration by placing more weight on each important fragment. The main aim of this research is to enhance the performance of similarity searching by using multiple descriptors. In this paper, a deep learning method known as deep belief networks (DBN) has been used to reweight the molecule features. Several descriptors have been used for the MDL Drug Data Report (MDDR) dataset each of which represents different important features. The proposed method has been implemented with each descriptor individually to select the important features based on a new weight, with a lower error rate, and merging together all new features from all descriptors to produce a new descriptor for similarity searching. Based on the extensive experiments conducted, the results show that the proposed method outperformed several existing benchmark similarity methods, including Bayesian inference networks (BIN), the Tanimoto similarity method (TAN), adapted similarity measure of text processing (ASMTP) and the quantum-based similarity method (SQB). The results of this proposed multi-descriptor-based on Stack of deep belief networks method (SDBN) demonstrated a higher accuracy compared to existing methods on structurally heterogeneous datasets.

Nasser Maged, Salim Naomie, Hamza Hentabli, Saeed Faisal, Rabiu Idris


deep belief networks (DBN), deep learning, feature selection, similarity searching, virtual screening (VS)