Analytical Chemistry

Fragment-based Sequential Translation for Molecular Optimization

Authors

Abstract

Searching for novel molecular compounds with desired properties is an important problem in drug discovery. Many existing frameworks generate molecules one atom at a time. We instead propose a flexible editing paradigm that generates molecules using learned molecular fragments---meaningful substructures of molecules. To do so, we train a variational autoencoder (VAE) to encode molecular fragments in a coherent latent space, which we then utilize as a vocabulary for editing molecules to explore the complex chemical property space. Equipped with the learned fragment vocabulary, we propose Fragment-based Sequential Translation (FaST), which learns a reinforcement learning (RL) policy to iteratively translate model-discovered molecules into increasingly novel molecules while satisfying desired properties. Empirical evaluation shows that FaST significantly improves over state-of-the-art methods on benchmark single/multi-objective molecular optimization tasks.

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