Skip to main content

Compound popularity contest

Have you ever wondered which compound is the most popular in ChEMBL? And by popular I don't mean the one which cracks the best jokes at dinner parties; I mean the compound with the largest number of structural analogues or nearest neighbours (NNs). This number also gives an indication of the sparsity or density of the chemical space around a compound and is a useful concept during hit expansion and lead optimisation. 

This number of course depends on the fingerprint, the hashing and folding parameters, the similarity coefficient and the threshold. So let's say 2048-bit RDKit Morgan fingerprints with a radius of 2 or 3 (equivalent to ECFP_4 or ECFP_6) and Tanimoto threshold of 0.5. Why so low threshold? For an explanation, see here and here.

To calculate this compound 'popularity', one would need to calculate the full similarity matrix of the 1.4M compounds in ChEMBL. This used to be prohibitively computationally expensive just a few years ago; nowadays, thanks to chemfp, it only takes 5 commands and a few hours to calculate the matrix and counts at a certain similarity threshold on a decent machine. Here's how it's done:

#install chemfp
pip install chemfp

#get the chembl sdf

#calculate rdkit morgan fps
rdkit2fps --morgan --radius 3 --id-tag "chembl_id" --errors report chembl_20.sdf.gz -o rdkit_chembl.fps

#calculate counts of neighbours at a given threshold, here 0.5
simsearch --threshold 0.5 --NxN -c rdkit_chembl.fps -o chembl_sim_matrix.txt

#sort by number of neighbours and find most 'popular' compound

sort -rn chembl_sim_matrix.txt | head -25

Here's a list of the most popular ones with the number of NNs:

1570 CHEMBL3037891
1540 CHEMBL2373012
1523 CHEMBL3086861
1461 CHEMBL2158309
1451 CHEMBL440810
1451 CHEMBL414360
1428 CHEMBL2401865
1425 CHEMBL408133
1425 CHEMBL354100
1425 CHEMBL344931
1425 CHEMBL310737
1425 CHEMBL303256
1425 CHEMBL302290
1425 CHEMBL27867
1425 CHEMBL137783
1403 CHEMBL1866472
1396 CHEMBL3102922
1392 CHEMBL3102921
1392 CHEMBL3102920
1387 CHEMBL91573
1387 CHEMBL70362
1387 CHEMBL601767
1387 CHEMBL533732
1387 CHEMBL503883
1387 CHEMBL477

Most of the most popular compounds are large, usually peptides, e.g. CHEMBL3037891. We'll leave it as an exercise for the reader why that is. But this not always the case, for example CHEMBL477 is adenosine and it genuinely has a lot of near neighbours in ChEMBL (including a lot of stereo variants).  

And what about the least popular compounds, i.e. the ones with no neighbours above 0.5 Tanimoto? One would not expect a lot of them, since ChEMBL by design contains compounds from congeneric series as reported in the med. chem. literature. And yet, due to small size, symmetry (CHEMBL100050), possible mistakes, and peculiarities of fingerprint similarity, or due to being genuinely lonely (CHEMBL35416), they do exist.  

Apart from popularity contests, a similarity/distance matrix of ChEMBL compounds is the first step for clustering and graph/community detection analysis.


PS: Thebacon has only 22 neighbours...


Popular posts from this blog

ChEMBL 34 is out!

We are delighted to announce the release of ChEMBL 34, which includes a full update to drug and clinical candidate drug data. This version of the database, prepared on 28/03/2024 contains:         2,431,025 compounds (of which 2,409,270 have mol files)         3,106,257 compound records (non-unique compounds)         20,772,701 activities         1,644,390 assays         15,598 targets         89,892 documents Data can be downloaded from the ChEMBL FTP site: Please see ChEMBL_34 release notes for full details of all changes in this release: New Data Sources European Medicines Agency (src_id = 66): European Medicines Agency's data correspond to EMA drugs prior to 20 January 2023 (excluding vaccines). 71 out of the 882 newly added EMA drugs are only authorised by EMA, rather than from other regulatory bodies e.g.

New SureChEMBL announcement

(Generated with DALL-E 3 ∙ 30 October 2023 at 1:48 pm) We have some very exciting news to report: the new SureChEMBL is now available! Hooray! What is SureChEMBL, you may ask. Good question! In our portfolio of chemical biology services, alongside our established database of bioactivity data for drug-like molecules ChEMBL , our dictionary of annotated small molecule entities ChEBI , and our compound cross-referencing system UniChem , we also deliver a database of annotated patents! Almost 10 years ago , EMBL-EBI acquired the SureChem system of chemically annotated patents and made this freely accessible in the public domain as SureChEMBL. Since then, our team has continued to maintain and deliver SureChEMBL. However, this has become increasingly challenging due to the complexities of the underlying codebase. We were awarded a Wellcome Trust grant in 2021 to completely overhaul SureChEMBL, with a new UI, backend infrastructure, and new f

Accessing SureChEMBL data in bulk

It is the peak of the summer (at least in this hemisphere) and many of our readers/users will be on holiday, perhaps on an island enjoying the sea. Luckily, for the rest of us there is still the 'sea' of SureChEMBL data that awaits to be enjoyed and explored for hidden 'treasures' (let me know if I pushed this analogy too far). See here and  here for a reminder of SureChEMBL is and what it does.  This wealth of (big) data can be accessed via the SureChEMBL interface , where users can submit quite sophisticated and granular queries by combining: i) Lucene fields against full-text and bibliographic metadata and ii) advanced structure query features against the annotated compound corpus. Examples of such queries will be the topic of a future post. Once the search results are back, users can browse through and export the chemistry from the patent(s) of interest. In addition to this functionality, we've been receiving user requests for  local (behind the