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The life-threatening disease COVID-19 has inspired significant efforts to discover novel therapeutic agents through repurposing of existing drugs. Although multi-targeted (polypharmacological) therapies are recognized as the most efficient approach to system diseases such as COVID-19, computational multi-targeted compound screening has been limited by the scarcity of high-quality experimental data and difficulties in extracting information from molecules. This study introduces MolGNN , a new deep learning model for molecular property prediction. MolGNN applies a graph neural network to computational learning of chemical molecule embedding. Comparing to state-of-the-art approaches heavily relying on labeled experimental data, our method achieves equivalent or superior prediction performance without manual labels in the pretraining stage, and excellent performance on data with only a few labels. Our results indicate that MolGNN is robust to scarce training data, and hence a powerful few-shot learning tool. MolGNN predicted several multi-targeted molecules against both human Janus kinases and the SARS-CoV-2 main protease, which are preferential targets for drugs aiming, respectively, at alleviating cytokine storm COVID-19 symptoms and suppressing viral replication. We also predicted molecules potentially inhibiting cell death induced by SARS-CoV-2. Several of MolGNN top predictions are supported by existing experimental and clinical evidence, demonstrating the potential value of our method


This article was originally published in frontiers of Bioinformatics and can be accessed at

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