Pharmit (http://pharmit.csb.pitt.edu) provides an online, interactive environment for the virtual screening of large compound databases using pharmacophores, molecular shape, and energy minimization. Users can import, create, and edit virtual screening queries in an interactive browser-based interface. Queries are specified in terms of a pharmacophore, a spatial arrangement of the essential features of an interaction, and molecular shape. Search results can be further ranked and filtered using energy minimization. In addition to a number of pre-built databases of popular compound libraries, users may submit their own compound libraries for screening. Pharmit uses state-of-the-art sub-linear algorithms to provide interactive screening of millions of compounds. Queries typically take a few seconds to a few minutes depending on their complexity. This allows users to iteratively refine their search during a single session. The easy access to large chemical datasets provided by Pharmit simplifies and accelerates structure-based drug design. Pharmit is available under a dual BSD/GPL open-source license.
Molecular shape is an important concept in drug design and virtual screening. Shape similarity typically uses either alignment methods, which dynamically optimize molecular poses with respect to the query molecular shape, or feature vector methods, which are computationally less demanding but less accurate. The computational cost of alignment can be reduced by pre-aligning shapes, as is done with the Volumetric-Aligned Molecular Shapes (VAMS) method. Here we introduce and evaluate Fragment Oriented Molecular Shapes (FOMS), where shapes are aligned based on molecular fragments. FOMS enables the use of _shape constraints_, a novel method for precisely specifying molecular shape queries that provides the ability to perform partial shape matching and supports search algorithms that function on an interactive time scale. When evaluated using the challenging Maximum Unbiased Validation dataset, shape constraints were able to extract significantly enriched subsets of compounds for the majority of targets, and FOMS matched or exceeded the performance of both VAMS and an optimizing alignment method of shape similarity search.
The success of molecular modeling and computational chemistry efforts are, by definition, dependent on quality software applications. Open source software development provides many advantages to users of modeling applications, not the least of which is that the software is free and completely extendable. In this review we categorize, enumerate, and describe available open source software packages for molecular modeling and computational chemistry.