Molecular Design in Synthetically Accessible Chemical Space via Deep Reinforcement Learning

Julien Horwood, Emmanuel Noutahi

The fundamental goal of generative drug design is to propose optimized molecules that meet predefined activity, selectivity, and pharmacokinetic criteria. Despite recent progress, we argue that existing generative methods are limited in their ability to favourably shift the distributions of molecular properties during optimization. We instead propose a novel Reinforcement Learning framework for molecular design in which an agent learns to directly optimize through a space of synthetically-accessible drug-like molecules. This becomes possible by defining transitions in our Markov Decision Process as chemical reactions, and allows us to leverage synthetic routes as an inductive bias. We validate our method by demonstrating that it outperforms existing state-of the art approaches in the optimization of pharmacologically-relevant objectives, while results on multi-objective optimization tasks suggest increased scalability to realistic pharmaceutical design problems.

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