Pharmit: Interactive Exploration of Chemical Space


Pharmit ( provides an online, interactive environment for the virtual screening of large compound databases using pharmacophores, molecular shape, and energy minimization. Users can import, create, and edit virtual screening queries in an interactive browser-based interface. Queries are specified in terms of a pharmacophore, a spatial arrangement of the essential features of an interaction, and molecular shape. Search results can be further ranked and filtered using energy minimization. In addition to a number of pre-built databases of popular compound libraries, users may submit their own compound libraries for screening. Pharmit uses state-of-the-art sub-linear algorithms to provide interactive screening of millions of compounds. Queries typically take a few seconds to a few minutes depending on their complexity. This allows users to iteratively refine their search during a single session. The easy access to large chemical datasets provided by Pharmit simplifies and accelerates structure-based drug design. Pharmit is available under a dual BSD/GPL open-source license.


There are a multitude of software packages and web services that assist in computer aided drug design (Villoutreix 2013), but a relative paucity of web services that support structure-based virtual screening. Those that exist, such as DockBlaster (Irwin 2009), iDrug (Wang 2014), iStar (Li 2014), e-LEA3D (Douguet 2010), and MTiOpenScreen (Labbé 2015), are typically batch-processing services where the user submits a virtual screening job and receives the results hours or days later. They are also usually limited to screening a pre-determined library of compounds of limited size. Alternatively, advanced algorithms enable interactive time-scale searches, but existing web resources (Koes 2012,