Predicting blood–brain barrier permeability of marine-derived kinase inhibitors using ensemble classifiers reveals potential hits for neurodegenerative disorders

Fabien Plisson*, Andrew M. Piggott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


The recent success of small-molecule kinase inhibitors as anticancer drugs has generated significant interest in their application to other clinical areas, such as disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). However, most kinase inhibitor drug candidates investigated to date have been ineffective at treating CNS disorders, mainly due to poor blood–brain barrier (BBB) permeability. It is, therefore, imperative to evaluate new chemical entities for both kinase inhibition and BBB permeability. Over the last 35 years, marine biodiscovery has yielded 471 natural products reported as kinase inhibitors, yet very few have been evaluated for BBB permeability. In this study, we revisited these marine natural products and predicted their ability to cross the BBB by applying freely available open-source chemoinformatics and machine learning algorithms to a training set of 332 previously reported CNS-penetrant small molecules. We evaluated several regression and classification models, and found that our optimised classifiers (random forest, gradient boosting, and logistic regression) outperformed other models, with overall cross-validated model accuracies of 80%–82% and 78%–80% on external testing. All 3 binary classifiers predicted 13 marine-derived kinase inhibitors with appropriate physicochemical characteristics for BBB permeability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number81
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalMarine Drugs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • marine natural products
  • kinase inhibitors
  • blood–brain barrier permeability
  • neurological disorders
  • machine learning
  • QSPR
  • RDKit

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