Virtual Coformer Screening by Crystal Structure Predictions: Crucial Role of Crystallinity in Pharmaceutical Cocrystallization
One of the most popular strategies of the optimization of drug properties in the pharmaceutical industry appears to be a solid form changing into a cocrystalline form. A number of virtual screening approaches have been previously developed to allow a selection of the most promising cocrystal formers (coformers) for an experimental follow-up. A significant drawback of those methods is related to the lack of accounting for the crystallinity contribution to cocrystal formation. To address this issue, we propose in this study two virtual coformer screening approaches based on a modern cloud-computing crystal structure prediction (CSP) technology at a dispersion-corrected density functional theory (DFT-D) level. The CSP-based methods were for the first time validated on challenging cases of indomethacin and paracetamol cocrystallization, for which the previously developed approaches provided poor predictions. The calculations demonstrated a dramatic improvement of the virtual coformer screening performance relative to the other methods. It is demonstrated that the crystallinity contribution to the formation of paracetamol and indomethacin cocrystals is a dominant one and, therefore, should not be ignored in the virtual screening calculations. Our results encourage a broad utilization of the proposed CSP-based technology in the pharmaceutical industry as the only virtual coformer screening method that directly accounts for the crystallinity contribution.
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