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Identification of potential biological targets of oxindole scaffolds via in silico repositioning strategies

Tinivella, Annachiara; Pinzi, Luca; Gambacorta, Guido; Baxendale, Ian; Rastelli, Giulio

Identification of potential biological targets of oxindole scaffolds via in silico repositioning strategies Thumbnail


Annachiara Tinivella

Luca Pinzi

Guido Gambacorta

Giulio Rastelli


Background: Drug repurposing is an alternative strategy to traditional drug discovery that aims at predicting new uses for already existing drugs or clinical candidates. Drug repurposing has many advantages over traditional drug development, such as reduced attrition rates, time and costs. This is especially the case considering that most drugs investigated for repurposing have already been assessed for their safety in clinical trials. Repurposing campaigns can also be designed for libraries of already synthesized molecules at different levels of biological experimentation, from null to in vitro and in vivo. Such an extension of the “repurposing” concept is expected to provide significant advantages for the identification of novel drugs, as the synthetic accessibility of the desired compounds is often one of the limiting factors in the traditional drug discovery pipeline. Methods: In this work, we performed a computational repurposing campaign on a library of previously synthesized oxindole-based compounds, in order to identify potential new targets for this versatile scaffold. To this aim, ligand-based approaches were firstly applied to evaluate the similarity degree of the investigated compound library, with respect to ligands extracted from the DrugBank, Protein Data Bank (PDB) and ChEMBL databases. In particular, the 2D fingerprint-based and 3D shape-based similarity profiles were evaluated and compared for the oxindole derivates. Results: The analyses predicted a set of potential candidate targets for repurposing, some of them emerging by consensus of different computational analyses. One of the identified targets, i.e., the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR-2) kinase, was further investigated by means of docking calculations, followed by biological testing of one candidate. Conclusions: While the compound did not show potent inhibitory activity towards VEGFR-2, the study highlighted several other possibilities of therapeutically relevant targets that may be worth of consideration for drug repurposing.


Tinivella, A., Pinzi, L., Gambacorta, G., Baxendale, I., & Rastelli, G. (2022). Identification of potential biological targets of oxindole scaffolds via in silico repositioning strategies. F1000Research, 11,

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Mar 23, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Apr 3, 2023
Publicly Available Date Apr 3, 2023
Journal F1000Research
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11


Published Journal Article (1.7 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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