According to a UNM Health Sciences Center release, Tudor Oprea, a professor of Internal Medicine and chief of UNM’s Translational Informatics Division, and a team collaborators, have pulled back the curtain on an open-source archive for drug discovery, development and safety that is 20 years in the making. 

According to the release, the group recently published their work in the journal "Nature Reviews Drug Discovery."

“This is a landmark paper,” David Schade, a distinguished professor in the UNM School of Medicine who oversees clinical research in the Department of Internal Medicine, was quoted as saying in the release. “Diseases that were not treatable 10 years ago are now treatable — that’s because of new medications that have been developed and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.”

While new drugs have saved lives, they can also complicate treatment. According to the release, doctors often use a combination of drugs to treat diabetes, for example, but they must make sure those drugs compliment one another and no dangerous side appear when combined.

“What we want to do,” Schade is quoted as saying in the release, “is hit multiple targets that are causing the disease.”

According to the release, Oprea’s archive will help doctors to do just that. Olivier Rixe, who oversees all clinical research at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center, agrees and plans to use Oprea’s archive to speed the process of drug discovery and development.

Oprea, now a professor at the center, started the drug database 20 years ago when he was a drug developer, according to the release. He archived drug targets — molecules that drugs act on to make the cell change its behavior — later expanded his list to include properties of the drugs themselves along with any information about how they acted on their targets.

According to the release, in order to develop the information, Oprea and his international collaborators had to mine data from all over the world, then correctly map the drugs’ molecular structures and search for data on the diseases the drugs helped to treat.

They collected data on the drugs’ effects on humans and animals and listed what scientists had learned about how the drugs reacted with the proteins in cells, according to the release.

In total, they cataloged 893 drug targets linked to their mode of action, a term that describes how drugs exert their therapeutic effect at the molecular level, along with 1,578 drugs approved by the FDA.

According to the release, the information is now publicly available through DrugCentral, a system that Oprea’s research team at UNM developed. DrugCentral resides at UNM and Oprea is building his team to be experts in drug discovery.

“This type of expertise is rare,” Oprea is quoted as saying in the release. “We are one of the teams that has it.”

Matthew Reisen is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @MReisen88.