First-Principles Modeling of Biological Systems and Structure-Based Drug-Design

Author(s): Jacopo Sgrignani, Alessandra Magistrato

Journal Name: Current Computer-Aided Drug Design

Volume 9 , Issue 1 , 2013

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Molecular modeling techniques play a relevant role in drug design providing detailed information at atomistic level on the structural, dynamical, mechanistic and electronic properties of biological systems involved in diseases’ onset, integrating and supporting commonly used experimental approaches. These information are often not accessible to the experimental techniques taken singularly, but are of crucial importance for drug design. Due to the enormous increase of the computer power in the last decades, quantum mechanical (QM) or first-principles-based methods have become often used to address biological issues of pharmaceutical relevance, providing relevant information for drug design. Due to their complexity and their size, biological systems are often investigated by means of a mixed quantum-classical (QM/MM) approach, which treats at an accurate QM level a limited chemically relevant portion of the system and at the molecular mechanics (MM) level the remaining of the biomolecule and its environment. This method provides a good compromise between computational cost and accuracy, allowing to characterize the properties of the biological system and the (free) energy landscape of the process in study with the accuracy of a QM description. In this review, after a brief introduction of QM and QM/MM methods, we will discuss few representative examples, taken from our work, of the application of these methods in the study of metallo-enzymes of pharmaceutical interest, of metal-containing anticancer drugs targeting the DNA as well as of neurodegenerative diseases. The information obtained from these studies may provide the basis for a rationale structure-based drug design of new and more efficient inhibitors or drugs.

Keywords: Anticancer drugs, metallo-β-lactamases, metal-based drug, metallo-enzymes, neurodegenerative diseases, QM/MM methods, structure-based drug design, α4β2 nicotinic receptor, biological system, drug targeting

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Article Details

Year: 2013
Published on: 27 January, 2013
Page: [15 - 34]
Pages: 20
DOI: 10.2174/1573409911309010003

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