In silico is an expression meaning "performed on computer or via computer simulation" in reference to biological experiments. The phrase was coined in 1987 as an allusion to the Latin phrases in vivo, in vitro, and in situ, which are commonly used in biology
(see also systems biology) and refer to experiments done in living organisms, outside living organisms, and where they are found in nature, respectively. In silico has been used in white papers written to support the creation of bacterial genome
programs by the Commission of the European Community. The first referenced paper where "in silico" appears was written by a French team in 1991. The first referenced book chapter where "in silico" appears was written by Hans B. Sieburg in 1990 and presented during a Summer School on Complex Systems at the Santa Fe Institute. The phrase "in silico" originally applied only to computer simulations that modeled natural or laboratory processes (in all the natural sciences), and did not refer to calculations done by computer generically. In silico study in medicine is thought to have the potential to speed the rate of discovery while reducing the need for expensive lab work and clinical trials. One way to achieve this is by producing and screening drug candidates more effectively. In 2010, for example, using the protein docking algorithm EADock), researchers found potential inhibitors to an enzyme associated with cancer
activity in silico. Fifty percent of the molecules were later shown to be active inhibitors in vitro. This approach differs from use of expensive high-throughput screening (HTS) robotic labs to physically test thousands of diverse compounds a day often with an expected hit rate on the order of 1% or less with still fewer expected to be real leads following further testing (see drug discovery).
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