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One million billion billion billion billion billion billion: The number of new drugs awaiting discovery

A new voyage into “chemical space” – occupied not by stars and planets but substances that could become useful in everyday life – has concluded that scientists have synthesized barely one tenth of 1 percent of the potential medicines that could be made. The report, in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience, estimates that the actual number of these so-called “small molecules” could be 1 novemdecillion (that’s 1 with 60 zeroes), 1 million billion billion billion billion billion billion, which is more than some estimates of the number of stars in the universe

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