Motivation

Efficient assessment of the blood–brain barrier (BBB) penetration ability of a drug compound is one of the major hurdles in central nervous system drug discovery since experimental methods are costly and time-consuming. To advance and elevate the success rate of neurotherapeutic drug discovery, it is essential to develop an accurate computational quantitative model to determine the absolute logBB value (a logarithmic ratio of the concentration of a drug in the brain to its concentration in the blood) of a drug candidate.

Results

Here, we developed a quantitative model (LogBB_Pred) capable of predicting a logBB value of a query compound. The model achieved an R2 of 0.61 on an independent test dataset and outperformed other publicly available quantitative models. When compared with the available qualitative (classification) models that only classified whether a compound is BBB-permeable or not, our model achieved the same accuracy (0.85) with the best qualitative model and far-outperformed other qualitative models (accuracies between 0.64 and 0.70). For further evaluation, our model, quantitative models, and the qualitative models were evaluated on a real-world central nervous system drug screening library. Our model showed an accuracy of 0.97 while the other models showed an accuracy in the range of 0.29–0.83. Consequently, our model can accurately classify BBB-permeable compounds as well as predict the absolute logBB values of drug candidates.

Availability and implementation

Web server is freely available on the web at http://ssbio.cau.ac.kr/software/logbb_pred/. The data used in this study are available to download at http://ssbio.cau.ac.kr/software/logbb_pred/dataset.zip.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.