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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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December 13, 2013

Free Chemical Patent Searching

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Posted by Derek

Here's some good news for open (free) access to chemical information. A company called SureChem was trying to make a business out of chemical patent information, but had to fold. They've donated their database to the EMBL folks, and now we have SureChEMBL. At the moment, that link is taking me to the former SureChem site, but no doubt that's changing shortly.

This will give access to millions of chemical structures in patents, a resource that's been hard to search without laying out some pretty noticeable money. This isn't just the database dump, either - the software has been donated, too, so things will stay up to date:

SureChEMBL takes feeds of full text patents, identifies chemical objects from either the in-line text or from images and adds 2-D chemical structures. This is then loaded into a database and is searchable by chemical structure, so you can do substructure, similarity searching and so forth - all the good things you'd expect from a chemical database. This chemical search functionality is unavailable from the public, published patent documents, and is really essential for anyone seriously using the patent literature. Oh, and the system does this live, so as patents are published, they are processed and added to the system - the delay between publication and structures being available in SureChEMBL is about a day when converted from text, and a few days when converted from image sources.

Chemical Abstracts, Reaxsys, and the others in that business should take note: if they want people to keep paying for their systems, they'll need to keep providing more value for the money. Good news all around.

Comments (11) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Chemical News | Patents and IP


1. Anonymous on December 13, 2013 9:53 AM writes...

Scifinder is now available at a reasonable price for ACS members, 50 searches/$200

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2. Ondrej on December 13, 2013 10:13 AM writes...

Lol, thats still pretty expensive for some.

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3. wane on December 13, 2013 10:18 AM writes...

I tried out a search (after registering) and was not impressed. I searched a substructure that should have found many compounds from several of my own patents and got 0 hits. Unless I did something wrong, in which case it is not obvious how to use.

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4. JAB on December 13, 2013 10:54 AM writes...

Worked for me.

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5. petros on December 13, 2013 11:12 AM writes...

That's excellent news. It's a very useful resource for searching patents for specific structures. The database appears to include all explicit structures and intermediates

I remember many years ago that MDL had developed an interface (pre ISIS) for substructure searching of the CA database then CA refused to allow it to be used.

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6. petros on December 13, 2013 11:19 AM writes...

More on this from John Overington's blog

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7. Researchfella on December 13, 2013 6:20 PM writes...

@1: I recently spoke with a CAS rep and was told that you can't pay for a certain number of searches in SciFinder, you have to purchase a one-year full user license. And it's not cheap.

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8. Pas le temps on December 14, 2013 7:36 PM writes...

The web site has this disclaimer at the bottom:
"2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved."
I may be over-cautious ,but I would be careful about entering any sensitive information.

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9. Anonymous on December 16, 2013 4:47 AM writes...

Please see e.g. here:

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10. Anonymous on December 16, 2013 11:17 AM writes...

University of Toronto had one of these for free a while back: Not sure if they're updating it, though.

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11. Anonymous on December 16, 2013 12:58 PM writes...

@6 It is part of your ACS member benefit and you have to contact ACS and not CAS
First of all you get free 25 searches/year and additionally you may purchase blocks of 50 searches.

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