Director’s Corner

Nov. 1, 2018: A New Portal for Creating “Inxights” in Drug Discovery

Christopher Austin

Efficient translational research typically requires access to a myriad of data, but often the information translational scientists need most is located in many different places and may not be publicly or freely available. For example, an investigator might be developing a potential new drug without knowing that the approach had already failed in clinical trials, because those results were never published. Conversely, the approach might work, and a drug that acts on the same molecule in the body and could be repurposed might already exist. A lack of access to reliable, curated drug development information can mean wasted time, money and even lives.

At NCATS, we seek to overcome scientific and operational problems that delay the translation of research discoveries into new treatments for patients. In the case of data access, a science-driven problem has led us to create an operational solution. This year, we launched NCATS Inxight: Drugs, an online portal that aggregates reliable, curated drug development data from multiple existing sources, all in one place.

This user-friendly resource incorporates a substantial amount of manually curated data from multiple independent public sources, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The inclusion of this previously unpublished FDA data was made possible through another collaboration with that agency: The FDA’s Substance Registration System was built on software developed at NCATS through the ginas project.

NCATS Inxight: Drugs is the only biomedical resource to use a complete list of rigorously defined drug substances as its core dataset. The portal includes data for all U.S.-approved prescription and over-the-counter drugs, U.S.-withdrawn drugs, drugs marketed globally, and investigational interventions. Many of the drug profiles include referenced data on the method of action, targets, and uses (approved and off-label), information that can spark new scientific hypotheses. The resource also includes a supplementary resource — Novel FDA Drug Approvals — that features new molecules approved by the FDA by year.

NCATS will update the portal regularly to ensure the broader research community has access to the most comprehensive and accurate information available. And novel algorithms developed at NCATS will enable data to be automatically aggregated in the portal.

I anticipate that NCATS Inxight: Drugs will help investigators obtain the data they need to more effectively advance drug development and repurposing efforts that address unmet medical needs. That, in turn, will help NCATS — and the entire biomedical research community — reach our goal of getting more treatments to more patients more quickly.

Christopher P. Austin, M.D.
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences