What about the "big guys"? The emerging HELM standard for macromolecular representation and the Pistoia Alliance
The recent increase in utilization of complex macromolecules such as Antibody-Drug Conjugates (ADCs) as therapeutic agents has revealed a substantial gap in the biopharmaceutical industry’s portfolio of informatics tools and methods, most of which were designed to work primarily with either small molecules or unmodified and unconjugated amino acid and nucleotide sequences. The Hierarchical Editing Language for Macromolecules (HELM), along with a software toolkit that leverages that language was developed by Pfizer researchers to address this gap (see J. Chem. Inf. Model 2012, 52, 2796-2806). HELM and related technologies such as SCSR (Self-Contained Sequence Representation, see: JChem Inf Model. 2011 51, 2186-208.), enable the representation of unnatural, conjugated or otherwise modified building blocks in biopolymers such as oligonucleotides, peptides, proteins and ADCs. HELM is being released into the Open Source and the Pistoia Alliance has initiated a project that has the goals of (1) facilitating this release, (2) adopting HELM as an industry standard for the manipulation and exchange of complex biomolecule data, and (3) setting up the organizational infrastructure to govern the future development of the standard. Given the recent FDA approval of the Antibody Drug Conjugate Kadcyla (Ado-Trastuzumab Emtansine) for Her2-Positive Metastatic Breast Cancer, one can reasonably assume that standards such as HELM and associated software tools will play an increasingly prominent role as part of the modern drug discovery informatics arsenal.