May 15, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 10)
Strong Points: Expansive database
Weak Points: Can’t browse database or library
One certainly can’t accuse the University of Alberta researchers who designed The Human Metabolome Project of having a lack of initiative. “Our goal,” the website proclaims, “is to be the first group in the world to complete the human metabolome.” (An example of “-ome fever” striking again) A human metabolome is a complete catalog of the small molecule metabolites found in human secretions and tissues. The website features an impressive human metabolome database containing over 7,900 entries. Each entry comes with its own handy-dandy “MetaboCard” that includes information pertaining to chemical properties and the like, but most importantly (at least, for a metabolite database) there is information about relevant metabolic enzymes. This includes the enzymes’ DNA and protein sequences, 3-D structure, and references. The website also contains a human metabolome library that permits researchers to request or order compounds. Containing only 876 compounds, though, this lightweight has a ways to go.