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Pfizer to support Indiana University informatics search for pathways to new medical discoveries

An Indiana University data mining expert will use a grant from Pfizer to create a public resource exploring connections between chemical compounds and their biological activities.

IU Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing Professor David Wild will use large-scale semantic Web-based data mining and network methods to seek to uncover previously undiscovered historical links between chemical compounds, drugs, biological pathways, targets, genes and diseases.

David Wild

David Wild will use a grant from Pfizer and large-scale data-mining techniques to try and uncover historical links between chemical compounds, drugs, biological pathways, genes and diseases that could facilitate new drug and treatment therapies.

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Pfizer has awarded Wild $140,000 to conduct the chemogenomics study and to facilitate research relating to the discovery of new therapies and treatments.

"This research is significant because it will for the first time provide a large-scale public chemogenomics resource with integrated data mining tools," Wild said. "Biomedical researchers will be able to use this to seek to find new important biological relationships and to help discover new drugs."

The field of chemogenomics, often described in a wider sense as "systems chemical biology," is rapidly emerging as a way of helping discover new disease therapies and uncovering new uses for existing drugs.

Wild's lab has already created Chem2Bio2RDF, a prototype semantic resource Web-based program that integrates vast quantities of public chemical and biological data on compounds, drugs, genes, pathways, diseases, side-effects and scholarly publications, along with some initial tools for mining the data.

That resource and its associated tools already show promise for important potential biomedical applications, including predicting off-target and multi-target interactions of drugs and chemical compounds, finding potential applications of existing drugs to new therapeutic areas, and discovery of currently unknown desirable biological effects of existing chemical compounds.

"Professor Wild and his research team are developing innovative solutions to some very complex data mining problems in associating chemical structure to biological activities across numerous databases relevant to drug discovery," said Jeff Howe, senior director in Pfizer's Computational Sciences Center of Emphasis. "We are pleased to support his leading-edge research on semantic Web-based data mining for chemogenomics and systems chemical biology."

Peter Luke, senior director of R&D Business Development at Pfizer, said the support was an example of a growing willingness to create opportunities for collaborations between industry and academia.

"As pre-competitive research through open innovation with academic institutions becomes even more important within the pharmaceutical Industry, we are pleased to fund this research, which is yet another example of partnering with institutions to facilitate novel science programs," Luke said.

The news release originally appeared Sept. 22, 2010.