AI-accelerated protein-ligand docking for SARS-CoV-2 is 100-fold faster with no sig-nificant change in detection

Austin Clyde, Xuefeng Liu, Thomas Brettin, Hyunseung Yoo, Alexander Partin, Yadu Babuji, Ben Blaiszik, Jamaludin Mohd-Yusof, Andre Merzky, Matteo Turilli, Shantenu Jha, Arvind Ramanathan and Rick Stevens

PaperAbstract. Protein-ligand docking is a computational method for identifying drug leads. The method is capable of narrowing a vast library of compounds down to a tractable size for downstream simulation or experimental testing and is widely used in drug discovery. While there has been progress in accelerating scoring of compounds with artificial intelligence, few works have bridged these successes back to the virtual screening community in terms of utility and forward-looking development. We demonstrate the power of high-speed ML models by scoring 1 billion molecules in under a day (50 k predictions per GPU seconds). We showcase a workflow for docking utilizing surrogate AI-based models as a pre-filter to a standard docking workflow. Our workflow is ten times faster at screening a library of compounds than the standard technique, with an error rate less than 0.01% of detecting the underlying best scoring 0.1% of compounds. Our analysis of the speedup explains that another order of magnitude speedup must come from model accuracy rather than computing speed. In order to drive another order of magnitude of acceleration, we share a benchmark dataset consisting of 200 million 3D complex structures and 2D structure scores across a consistent set of 13 million “in-stock” molecules over 15 receptors, or binding sites, across the SARS-CoV-2 proteome. We believe this is strong evidence for the community to begin focusing on improving the accuracy of surrogate models to improve the ability to screen massive compound libraries 100 × or even 1000 × faster than current techniques and reduce missing top hits. The technique outlined aims to be a fast drop-in replacement for docking for screening billion-scale molecular libraries.