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Drug discovery database launches with 500,000 compounds

ChEMBLdb, an online database of information on the properties of drugs and drug-like small molecules and their targets, has launched with information on more than half a million compounds.

The data lie at the heart of translating information from the human genome into successful new drugs in the clinic. The database is hosted by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). ChEMBLdb brings together information from the interface of the genome with chemistry into a set of 'chemogenomic' databases that can be used to help determine whether a particular molecule has the right properties to make an effective drug.

ChEMBLdb is a unique resource because of its focus on drug discovery and its size: information on an additional 100,000 compounds has been added to the database for its launch, taking the number of small molecules to more than 520,000, and it now contains more than 2.4 million records of their effects on biological systems. The data include information about how small molecules bind to their targets, how these compounds affect cells and whole organisms, and information on the molecules' absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and toxicity.

Dr John Overington, leader of the ChEMBL team at EMBL-EBI, said: ‘We hope ChEMBLdb will assist the translation of genomic-based insights into innovative drug therapies. We are pleased that there has already been big demand for ChEMBLdb data – not only from large pharmaceutical companies but also from academic institutions and small companies who will particularly benefit from free access to the data.’

Dr Alan Schafer, Director of Science Funding at the Wellcome Trust, said: ‘This unprecedented transfer of pharmaceutical data resources from the private sector to the public domain should have the greatest impact on researchers in academia and in small companies on limited budgets. ChEMBLdb will be a major resource of information for driving forward medicinal chemistry and drug development in the UK and internationally.’

The launch of ChEMBLdb is accompanied by the release of Kinase SARfari, an integrated resource of sequence, compound and screening data from a variety of sources for the protein kinases, a key family for drug discovery.

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