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International Consortium Sets Standards for Describing Properties of Bioactive Compounds

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An international consortium made up of representatives from pharmaceutical companies, public and commercial data providers, and academic groups led by the European Bioinformatics Institute has published standards for describing the biological properties of bioactive molecules such as drugs, pesticides, and food additives.

The Minimum Information about a Bioactive Entity, MIABE, standard, which began as a precompetitive project in EBI's industry program and was published this week in Nature, is expected to improve access to public data on licensed and commercially available drug compounds, as well as those molecules that fail during development.

Additionally, it is expected to improve the scientific community's ability to capture information generated by pharma, biotech, and academia that either isn't in the published literature, or is reported in an unstructured form.

“We hope that MIABE will make possible an order-of-magnitude increase in the amount of data available for analysis,” John Overington, head of the ChEMBL group at EBI, said in a statement. He added that “experience with other standards has shown that as more groups come to adopt them, the amount of useable data available to researchers snowballs.”

It is also hoped that these standards will prevent repetition while saving time, energy, and resources.

“The increased availability of standards-compliant data will help companies to streamline their decision-making processes,” said Dominic Clark, coordinator of EBI's industry program. He added that “industry is becoming increasingly reliant on data in the public domain" and as such "having a set of principles and standards will make data integration simpler and help to control costs.”

In addition to the EBI, the consortium includes researchers from the UK's Institute of Cancer Research, the US National Institutes of Health, AstraZeneca, the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Cambridge, among others.

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