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Drug targets to aim for

PSI-SGKB [doi:10.1038/th_psisgkb.2009.3]
Technical Highlight - February 2009
Short description: The TDR Targets database combines genomic data on tropical-disease pathogens with structural and biochemical information to help researchers draw up a shortlist of potential drug targets.Nature Rev. Drug Disc. 7, 900-907 (2008)

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The genome sequences of many disease-causing microbes are now available, and many more are on their way. Extensive genetic, biochemical and protein structural data are also available, which should assist drug discovery. But for the information to be really useful, the data must be integrated and easy to interrogate.

To this end, an international consortium of public- and private-sector partners, including PSI NYSGXRC, has developed an open-access database for tropical-disease pathogens, the TDR Targets database. It contains genetic, biochemical and pharmacological data, with the aim of easing the identification and prioritization of candidate drug targets for infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and leishmaniasis.

Genomic information on at least ten pathogens can be found in the database, including data on the tuberculosis pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the leprosy agent M. leprae and the malaria parasites Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax. It also contains a manually curated list of potential drug targets and their inhibitors together with information indicating whether a gene is essential in at least one organism, effectively targeted by drugs in other organisms, and is likely to have drug-like inhibitors. Reviewing the database, consortium members (Agüero et al.) outline the way it can function as a useful guide for drug-target prioritization.

The consortium's aim is for researchers to be able to turn biological questions into a computationally useable format and produce a shortlist of candidate targets suitable for further investigation. Researchers can query the database, survey the data and produce a ranked list of candidate targets, which can be saved or posted for others to view.

Massive data sets are a fantastic resource when they are carefully organized, integrated and annotated. The TDR Targets database should assist target-based drug discovery.

Maria Hodges


  1. Agüero Fernán et al. Genomic-scale prioritization of drug targets: the TDR Targets database.
    Nature Rev. Drug Disc. 7, 900-907 (2008).

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