Software-aided structural elucidation in drug discovery

November 2015

Ahlqvist M; Leandersson C; Hayes MA; Zamora I; Thompson RA


Rationale: Structural information on metabolites obtained in relevant biological systems can have considerable impact on the design of new drug candidates. However, with demanding turnaround times, the amount of available structural information may become rate limiting.

Methods: The workflow for metabolite identification used in our laboratory was compared to a workflow using a software tool built for computer-assisted metabolite identification. The present study covered the in vitro metabolism of a diverse set of 65 in-house compounds. The compounds were profiled across three liver-based systems, 17 compounds were tested in human liver microsomes (HLM), 12 in rat hepatocytes (RHEP), and 36 in human hepatocytes (HHEP).

Results: For 92% of the metabolites reported, the exact match or Markush representations were in agreement between the two workflows. The major specific biotransformations in hepatocytes which formed the metabolites were aromatic or aliphatic hydroxylations (33%), N-dealkylations (15%) and glucuronidations (12%).

Conclusions: The software was shown to perform well for structural elucidation of metabolites from both phase I and phase II metabolism where the focus was on quickly understanding the rate-limiting metabolic step(s).


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