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Chemical Biology

Chemical Probes: This Year’s Model

I wanted to mention that the Chemical Probes portal (mentioned here last summer) has been re-launched with more features, more information (and more funding!) What it needs are more probes in its database. I’ve been submitting some suggestions this morning based on some of my own past experiences, and I invite others to do the same.

One feature that would be controversial but useful would be a list of nonrecommended chemical probes – things that are in the literature or sold by vendors but are definitely not selective enough to be useful (as opposed to the ones where not enough evidence exists either way). There’s a depressingly long list of those, and a rogue’s gallery would be welcome.

An update from Amy Donner at the site (via the comments section here): “. . .we plan to expand the number of probes on the portal as quickly as we can while also ensuring the quality of the curated data associated with a probe as well as providing expert recommendations about the quality of and best use of the probe. We are opening the site up for new submissions as we speak, and plan a series of targeted campaigns (where we solicit probe submissions by protein family) as well as accepting probe submissions as they come in. We are working with several publishers to try and capture new probes as they are published.”

5 comments on “Chemical Probes: This Year’s Model”

  1. Slim Pickins says:

    The current set of probes is extremely limited! What plans are there for expansion and how will it be any different or better than what’s already out there (e.g. IUPHAR, chembl,…)?

  2. Amy Donner says:

    We (The Chemical Probe Portal) are aware that we have very few probes on the current site, and we plan to expand the number of probes on the portal as quickly as we can while also ensuring the quality of the curated data associated with a probe as well as providing expert recommendations about the quality of and best use of the probe. We are opening the site up for new submissions as we speak, and plan a series of targeted campaigns (where we solicit probe submissions by protein family) as well as accepting probe submissions as they come in. We are working with several publishers to try and capture new probes as they are published. Some, but not all, of our plans are delineated on our site. Please visit the site, look around for more information, and if you have suggestions, use our feedback page to share your ideas.

  3. Al says:

    Here is the conundrum. Should a site that aims to help scientists find a useful reagent focus only on recommending “best available” probes for a given protein ? Or at same time highlight probes of “lesser” quality?

    One thought is that if the site recommends the “best available” probe for a target then, by omission, one can imagine that other molecules should be avoided, without needing to be explicit as to the reason (and thus avoiding needlessly offending anyone).

  4. Xilno says:

    Not selective does not equate to not useful. Non-selective molecules are simply harder to use. Many molecules causing interesting and unique phenotypes are non-selective. True, recognizing the difference between a useless probe and non-selective but useful probe is hard to do. However, the last thing you want to do is reject every paper that uses a non-selective molecule to obtain its conclusions. The Chemical Probes portal is a great advance in organizing the field, but it should not be construed as an effort to define or restrict the scope of molecules that are considered to be useful by scientists.

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