The Chemical Library of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle contains over 1,500 molecules and natural extracts. The products are available to scientists in powder or solution form. This powerful tool for discovery and knowledge translation is involved in various screening programmes.

The Chemical library comprises 1,300 molecules, mainly historical natural products, which make it a very diverse and truly original resource. These products are derived from the Muséum’s collections and ongoing research work. Each molecule is stored in the form of amorphous powder at ambient temperature, and in solution form in DMSO at -20°C.
The Extract Library comprises 240 extracts from mushrooms and marine invertebrate specimens from the Muséum’s Zoological Library. These extracts are preserved in ethanol solution and in DMSO at -20°C.
The products and natural extracts in DMSO solution are packed in 96-well plates that are easily accessible for high-throughput screenings. These collections are managed by the research unit MCAM (UMR 7245 CNRS/MNHN).

Chemical Library © MNHN - S. Amand / C. Maulay-Bailly
Chemical Library © MNHN - S. Amand / C. Maulay-Bailly, par S. Amand / C. Maulay-Bailly

The idea of listing the molecules stored in France’s public laboratories dates back to 1997, with the decoding of the human genome. Thousands of new proteins were discovered at the time but a biological function still had to be attributed to them. Chemists then had the idea of collecting the "forgotten" molecules, chemicals and natural substances that were just sitting in a cupboard. This was the case for the Muséum’s chemists, who joined this national movement in 2006 by collecting historic molecules, particularly those stored in the chemistry laboratory’s collection room.

Extract Library © MNHN - S. Amand / C. Maulay-Bailly
Extract Library © MNHN - S. Amand / C. Maulay-Bailly, par S. Amand / C. Maulay-Bailly

The aim of this collection is to promote the scientific and industrial application of the compounds and natural extracts produced in the Muséum’s research laboratories. The main task is to respond to requests for compounds or natural extracts produced by the research teams as part of a screening programme. These collaborations are governed by confidentiality agreements (MTA, Material Transfer Agreement) drafted with the help of the Muséum’s legal unit and knowledge translation unit. New fungal products, either natural or synthesised, are regularly added to the Chemical Library as a result of the ongoing research work.