Facing the continuous emergence of new psychoactive substances (NPS) and their threat to public health, more effective methods for NPS prediction and identification are critical.
In this study, the pharmacological affinity fingerprints (Ph-fp) of NPS compounds were predicted by Random Forest classification models using bioactivity data from the ChEMBL database. The binary Ph-fp is the vector consisting of a compound’s activity against a list of molecular targets reported to be responsible for the pharmacological effects of NPS. Their performance in similarity searching and unsupervised clustering was assessed and compared to 2D structure fingerprints Morgan and MACCS (1024-bits ECFP4 and 166-bits SMARTS-based MACCS implementation of RDKit). The performance in retrieving compounds according to their pharmacological categorizations is influenced by the predicted active assay counts in Ph-fp and the choice of similarity metric. Overall, the comparative unsupervised clustering analysis shows that Ph-fp constructed using classification models using Morgan fingerprints gives satisfactory performance comparable to Morgan according to external and internal clustering validation indices.