Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

1 million billion billion billion billion billion billion: Number of undiscovered drugs

Date:
June 6, 2012
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
A new voyage into "chemical space" – occupied not by stars and planets but substances that could become useful in everyday life – has concluded that scientists have synthesized barely one tenth of one percent of potential medicines. The report estimates that the actual number of these so-called "small molecules" could be one novemdecillion (that's one with 60 zeroes), more than some estimates of the number of stars in the universe.

A new voyage into "chemical space" -- occupied not by stars and planets but substances that could become useful in everyday life -- has concluded that scientists have synthesized barely one tenth of 1 percent of the potential medicines that could be made.
Credit: Nikolai Sorokin / Fotolia

A new voyage into "chemical space" -- occupied not by stars and planets but substances that could become useful in everyday life -- has concluded that scientists have synthesized barely one tenth of 1 percent of the potential medicines that could be made. The report, in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience, estimates that the actual number of these so-called "small molecules" could be 1 novemdecillion (that's 1 with 60 zeroes), 1 million billion billion billion billion billion billion, which is more than some estimates of the number of stars in the universe.

Related Articles


Jean-Louis Reymond and Mahendra Awale explain that small molecules, which are able to cross cell walls and interact with biological molecules in the body, are prime targets for scientists who develop new medicines. Most existing medications are small molecules. The authors focused on the "chemical space" inhabited by all of the small molecules that could possibly exist according to the laws of physics and chemistry. Researchers have identified millions of these compounds -- the ACS' Chemical Abstracts Service database contains almost 67 million substances. Reymond and Awale estimate that the molecules synthesized and tested as potential drugs so far represent less than 0.1 percent of chemical space. To aid researchers looking for new ways to prevent and treat disease, they set out to find the best ways to search for new small molecules.

The authors discuss several ways of getting a handle on chemical space, including by the size, shape and makeup of molecules. They show how computers can help researchers efficiently narrow a search for a new drug candidate. Computer modeling of chemical interactions can help researchers find a handful of promising molecules to synthesize and test in the lab. "Small molecule drugs are essential to the success of modern medicine," the authors note, and suggest that their methods may be particularly useful for finding new pharmaceuticals that target the central nervous system.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jean-Louis Reymond, Mahendra Awale. Exploring Chemical Space for Drug Discovery Using the Chemical Universe Database. ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 2012; 120503134118006 DOI: 10.1021/cn3000422

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "1 million billion billion billion billion billion billion: Number of undiscovered drugs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120606132316.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2012, June 6). 1 million billion billion billion billion billion billion: Number of undiscovered drugs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120606132316.htm
American Chemical Society. "1 million billion billion billion billion billion billion: Number of undiscovered drugs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120606132316.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) A tech company in Spain have combined technology with cuisine to develop the 'Foodini', a 3D printer designed to print the perfect cookie for Santa. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Etihad Superjumbo Flight in December

First Etihad Superjumbo Flight in December

AFP (Dec. 18, 2014) The first flight of Etihad Airways' long-awaited Airbus A380 superjumbo will take place later in December, the Abu Dhabi carrier said Thursday, also announcing its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner route. Duration: 01:09 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ford Expands Air Bag Recall Nationwide

Ford Expands Air Bag Recall Nationwide

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The automaker added 447,000 vehicles to its recall list, bringing the total to more than 502,000. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins