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Recent Developments in Free Energy Calculations for Drug Discovery


The grand challenge in structure-based drug design is achieving accurate prediction of binding free energies. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations enable modeling of conformational changes critical to the binding process, leading to calculation of thermodynamic quantities involved in estimation of binding affinities. With recent advancements in computing capability and predictive accuracy, MD based virtual screening has progressed from the domain of theoretical attempts to real application in drug development. Approaches including the Molecular Mechanics Poisson Boltzmann Surface Area (MM-PBSA), Linear Interaction Energy (LIE), and alchemical methods have been broadly applied to model molecular recognition for drug discovery and lead optimization. Here we review the varied methodology of these approaches, developments enhancing simulation efficiency and reliability, remaining challenges hindering predictive performance, and applications to problems in the fields of medicine and biochemistry.

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