Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Inhibitor discovery for emerging drug-target proteins is challenging, especially when target structure or active molecules are unknown. Here, we experimentally validate the broad utility of a deep generative framework trained at-scale on protein sequences, small molecules, and their mutual interactions-unbiased toward any specific target. We performed a protein sequence-conditioned sampling on the generative foundation model to design small-molecule inhibitors for two dissimilar targets: the spike protein receptor-binding domain (RBD) and the main protease from SARS-CoV-2. Despite using only the target sequence information during the model inference, micromolar-level inhibition was observed in vitro for two candidates out of four synthesized for each target. The most potent spike RBD inhibitor exhibited activity against several variants in live virus neutralization assays. These results establish that a single, broadly deployable generative foundation model for accelerated inhibitor discovery is effective and efficient, even in the absence of target structure or binder information.

Original publication




Journal article


Science advances

Publication Date





IBM Research, Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, New York, NY, USA.