Probes & Drugs: A portal that saves time

Probes & Drugs: A portal that saves time

Mon Jul 31 12:23:27 CEST 2017

The world is full of information; it pours in on us from all sides, but how to find the truthful, how to avoid the half-truths and lies? How to correctly combine information so the resulting judgment has the right sense? We all encounter these problems, it influences our decision-making, our judgement. A detailed analysis takes time. The new web portal of the scientists from the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the CAS amasses “under one roof” information on chemical compounds that is otherwise scattered in databases all around the world and often very difficult to find. The article on the portal was accepted also by the prestigious journal Nature Methods.

“The magic of Probes & Drugs mainly lies in that you can find in one or two clicks of the mouse in a few seconds the connections between compounds which before you worked to after long hours of spent with your computers. Our database thus saves scientists a great deal of time. And moreover, thanks to the sophisticated simple user design, even complete laypersons who have last seen the chemical formula at elementary school can search and relatively quickly orient themselves in the database,” says the author of the database Petr Bartůněk.

The portal currently contains more than 30,000 compounds and the number constantly increases. Whereas the medications are clearly described and compounds approved for use, the chemical probes commonly used for the study of the functions of genes, verification of target molecules or the description of cellular processes, and their biological activity is often described only partially. In the database, we find the structures of the individual compounds, or information on with which other substances a given compound can be replaced. The portal itself uses the data on these compounds and combines them variously according to the requirements of the users.

It unfortunately happens that the information on chemical probes, which are presented in the databases, could be out of date or in a worse even mistaken, but despite that they are still used by the scientific community. As Ctibor Škuta, a doctoral candidate from the team of Petr Bartůněk, explains: “Probes & Drugs tries to eliminate this mistakenly presented information on chemical probes. That is very important, because it is possible to avoid errors that way and save many scientists time and possibly also money. We constantly update our database with the latest data.”

The portal Probes & Drugs opens for its users on 28 July 2017.

You can find more information at, and

Prepared by: Department of Media Communication of the CAS from the background materials of the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the CAS
Photo: Institute of Molecular Genetics of the CAS