Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

W. David Wilson - Chair

Second Advisor

Markus W. Germann

Third Advisor

David W. Boykin


Computer-aided drug discovery involves the application of computer science and programming to solve chemical and biological problems. Specifically, the QSAR (Quantitative Structure Activity Relationships) methodology is used in drug development to provide a rational basis of drug synthesis, rather than a trial and error approach. Molecular dynamics (MD) studies focus on investigating the details of drug-target interactions to elucidate various biophysical characteristics of interest. Infectious diseases like Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (TBR) and P. falciparum (malaria) are responsible for millions of deaths annually around the globe. This necessitates an immediate need to design and develop new drugs that efficiently battle these diseases. As a part of the initiatives to improve drug efficacy QSAR studies accomplished the formulation of chemical hypothesis to assist development of drugs against TBR. Results show that CoMSIA 3D QSAR models, with a Pearson’s correlation coefficient of 0.95, predict a compound with meta nitrogens on the phenyl groups, in the combinatorial space based on a biphenyl-furan diamidine design template, to have higher activity against TBR relative to the existing compound set within the same space. Molecular dynamics study, conducted on a linear benzimidazole-biphenyl diamidine that has non-classical structural similarity to earlier known paradigms of minor groove binders, gave insights into the unique water mediated interactions between the DNA minor groove and this ligand. Earlier experiments suggested the interfacial water molecules near the terminal ends of the ligand to be responsible for the exceptianlly high binding constant of the ligand. Results from MD studies show two other modes of binding. The first conformation has a single water molecule with a residency time of 6ns (average) that is closer to the central part of the ligand, which stabilizes the structure in addition to the terminal water. The second conformation that was detected had the ligand completely away from the floor of the minor groove, and hydrogen bonded to the sugar oxygens.

Included in

Chemistry Commons