Saturday, 22 August 2009
CAS, the American Chemical Society’s division that produces the CAS registry, just announced that on September 7 it expects to register the 50 millionth unique chemical substance. Only last November, CAS registered its 40 millionth substance (a derivative of azulenobenzofuran). Per CAS, it registered its 10 millionth compound in 1990, after 33 years, and now registers approximately 12,000 new substances daily. That means that, at the current exponential rate of registry additions, we could be celebrating the 60 millionth substance by the start of 2010.
With such an explosion – figuratively speaking – of new substance registrations, having effective systems for identifying, tracking and them becomes critical in order to facilitate research. The CAS Registry Number System is among the most prominent such systems for chemicals substances. PubChem, from the National Institutes of Health, has its own Chemical ID number system as does International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), which helped to develop the International Chemical Identifier (InChI) system. Unlike the CAS system, the PubChem and IUPAC systems are non-proprietary. Just last month, IUPAC announced that it has established the InChi Trust to further the development of its open source algorithm so chemical engineers and other chemistry researchers and professionals may expect to see increased InChis alongside the CAS numbers and the prospect of interesting ways to link substances using these unique identifiers.