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Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 16;8(1):849. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-18151-x.

Assemble-And-Match: A Novel Hybrid Tool for Enhancing Education and Research in Rational Structure Based Drug Design.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 06269, USA.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 06269, USA.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 06269, USA.


Rational drug design is the process of finding new medication that can activate or inhibit the biofunction of a target molecule by binding to it and forming a molecular complex. Here, shape and charge complementarities between drug and target are key. To help find effective drug molecules out of a huge pool of possibilities, physical and computer aided tools have been developed. Former offers a tangible experience of the molecular interactions yet lacks measurement and evaluation capabilities. Latter enables accurate and fast evaluations, but does not deliver the interactive tangible experience of physical models. We introduce a novel hybrid model called "Assemble-And-Match" where, we enhance and combine the unique features of the two categories. Assemble-And-Match works based on fabrication of customized molecular fragments using our developed software and a 3D printer. Fragments are hinged to each other in different combinations and form flexible peptide chains, conformable to tertiary structures, to fit in the binding pocket of a (3D printed) target molecule. Through embedded measurement marks, the molecular model is reconstructed in silico and its properties are evaluated. We expect Assemble-And-Match tool can enable combination of visuospatial perception with in silico computational power to aid research and education in drug design.

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