MAIP: a web service for predicting blood-stage malaria inhibitors

22 Feb 2021

Bosc N, Felix E, Arcila R, Mendez D, Saunders MR, Green DVS, Ochoada J, Shelat AA, Martin EJ, Iyer P, Engkvist O, Verras A, Duffy J, Burrows J, Gardner JMF, Leach AR

Journal of cheminformatics
PMID: 33618772

Doi: 10.1186/s13321-021-00487-2

Photo: gerasimov_foto_174/Shutterstock.com

Malaria is a disease affecting hundreds of millions of people across the world, mainly in developing countries and especially in sub-Saharan Africa. It is the cause of hundreds of thousands of deaths each year and there is an ever-present need to identify and develop effective new therapies to tackle the disease and overcome increasing drug resistance. Here, we extend a previous study in which a number of partners collaborated to develop a consensus in silico model that can be used to identify novel molecules that may have antimalarial properties. The performance of machine learning methods generally improves with the number of data points available for training. One practical challenge in building large training sets is that the data are often proprietary and cannot be straightforwardly integrated. Here, this was addressed by sharing QSAR models, each built on a private data set. We describe the development of an open-source software platform for creating such models, a comprehensive evaluation of methods to create a single consensus model and a web platform called MAIP available at https://www.ebi.ac.uk/chembl/maip/ . MAIP is freely available for the wider community to make large-scale predictions of potential malaria inhibiting compounds. This project also highlights some of the practical challenges in reproducing published computational methods and the opportunities that open-source software can offer to the community.

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