The latest, and potentially the greatest, in freely accessible chemistry database went live at midnight EST to coincide with the start of this year’s ACS Annual Meeting in Chicago. ChemSpider was built to aggregate and index chemical structures across the web together with their associated meta data and provide a single searchable repository available to everybody, for free. Structure identifiers such as SMILES, InChI, IUPAC and Index Names as well as numerous physicochemical properties are embedded with each database entry, of which there are 10 million at the moment. According to the site FAQ, “We intend ChemSpider to offer the fastest chemical structure searches available online and delivered with the flexibility and usability necessary to encourage repeat usage.” Chemists among the Sciencebase readership will no doubt already be clamouring to try out the beta release and to compare it with the likes of PubChem and ChEBI.
There are dozens and dozens of chemical structure databases across the web, but no simple way to search all of them. Some are curated from the research literature others are vendor catalogues, and yet others are molecular properties, environmental data, toxicity data, analytical data repositories. ChemSpider will aggregate all of these (even the commercial ones) into a single database, so providing pointers to virtually all the available information. Many of the end pages users will reach will be open access and free while others will require a paid login ultimately. Regardless, at least you will know whether or not information exists on those structures and you can then choose to subscribe or not to the external information.
Okay, so if this post is starting to sound a bit too much like an advertisement for ChemSpider, I have to confess something of a vested interest. As part of the launch, Sciencebase has collaborated with the good folks at ChemSpider to bring you the site’s very own webzine (all puns intended!) – Spinneret. And, in case you’re wondering what exactly a spinneret is, you can find out on the site’s About page. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Spinneret RSS to keep ahead of the game and find out how Spinneret is weaving the chemical web one molecule at a time (another of those puns, sorry).