Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson's disease (PD), spinal cerebellar ataxias, and spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy are described by slow and selective degeneration of neurons and axons in the central nervous system (CNS) and constitute one of the major challenges of modern medicine. Computer-aided or in silico drug design methods have matured into powerful tools for reducing the number of ligands that should be screened in experimental assays.
In the present review, the authors provide a basic background about neurodegenerative diseases and in silico techniques in the drug research. Furthermore, they review the various in silico studies reported against various targets in neurodegenerative diseases, including homology modeling, molecular docking, virtual high-throughput screening, quantitative structure activity relationship (QSAR), hologram quantitative structure activity relationship (HQSAR), 3D pharmacophore mapping, proteochemometrics modeling (PCM), fingerprints, fragment-based drug discovery, Monte Carlo simulation, molecular dynamic (MD) simulation, quantum-mechanical methods for drug design, support vector machines, and machine learning approaches.
Detailed analysis of the recently reported case studies revealed that the majority of them use a sequential combination of ligand and structure-based virtual screening techniques, with particular focus on pharmacophore models and the docking approach.
Neurodegenerative diseases have a multifactorial pathoetiological origin, so scientists have become persuaded that a multi-target therapeutic strategy aimed at the simultaneous targeting of multiple proteins (and therefore etiologies) involved in the development of a disease is recommended in future.