Over the past two years, the recession has had a profound impact on the pharmaceutical industry. Out of the ashes though new startup opportunities have arisen for scientists with experience in drug discovery. These startups in turn are feeding the ever-diminishing pipelines of big pharma. As with every startup company though, cashflow is always a challenge. Virtual drug discovery companies are making the most of outsourcing, using services like AssayDepot
to minimize the time-to-market for new lead compounds. But lab expenses are only part of the equation, the other major expense is informatics. There are a lot of free tools available though that can help you get your business off the ground. In this series of articles called “Free Software for Scientists”, I’ll be examining some of the more popular offerings, and demonstrating how those applications can be used to solve particular problems in drug discovery.
The first is FireFox plugin from our friends at the European Bioinformatics Institute called BioBar. BioBar makes searching databases like PubMed, EntrezGene, OMIM and many others a snap. You simply select the database from the list box, and enter your search terms.
BioBar has support for all of the NCBI databases (like PubMed, OMIM, EntrezGene and many others). It also supports databases from EBI, and DDBJ. Rather than simply bookmarking useful websites, BioBar makes those sites easily searchable.
BioBar is also easily customizable. So if you want to add your own internal databases to BioBar, you simply edit the BiobarGroups.xml file and the BiobarSearch.xml file. You’ll find complete instructions for doing this here
To install BioBar, simply select Tools > Add ons. Click the Get Add-ons tab, and search for BioBar. When BioBar appears in the search results, simply click the Add to Firefox button to install the plugin. You’ll need to restart FireFox after the plugin is installed.