Optimizing Molecules using Efficient Queries from Property Evaluations

11/03/2020 ∙ by Samuel Hoffman, et al. ∙ 42

Machine learning has shown potential for optimizing existing molecules with more desirable properties, a critical step towards accelerating new chemical discovery. In this work, we propose QMO, a generic query-based molecule optimization framework that exploits latent embeddings from a molecule autoencoder. QMO improves the desired properties of an input molecule based on efficient queries, guided by a set of molecular property predictions and evaluation metrics. We show that QMO outperforms existing methods in the benchmark tasks of optimizing molecules for drug likeliness and solubility under similarity constraints. We also demonstrate significant property improvement using QMO on two new and challenging tasks that are also important in real-world discovery problems: (i) optimizing existing SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease inhibitors toward higher binding affinity; and (ii) improving known antimicrobial peptides towards lower toxicity. Results from QMO show high consistency with external validations, suggesting effective means of facilitating molecule optimization problems with design constraints.

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