ChemBioOffice Ultra From CambridgeSoft

ChemBioOffice Ultra From CambridgeSoft
ChemBioOffice Ultra 11 is a highly professional application for chemists and biologists. The application provides an efficient means of correlating biological and chemical information. The application is designed only for Windows 2000, XP and Vista (32 bit). This review was assessed using Parallels for Mac running OSX 10.5.x., using XP. A separate version of ChemBioDraw Ultra 11 is available for the Mac. ChemBioDraw Ultra 11.0 includes a one-year subscription to ChemACX, Ashgate Drugs, ChemINDEX and ePub. There are four other databases included on the CD. CHEMPREPTM, CHEMSELECT, AIDS2006 and NCI2006. These databases are extremely useful as they can assist you in determining the availability of compounds and their related costs. The components in ChemBioOffice Ultra are: ChemBioDraw Ultra 11.0, MestReC Std, ChemScript Pro 11.0, ChemBio3D Ultra 11.0, GAMESS Pro 11.0, ChemFinder Ultra 11.0, ChemBioViz Ultra 11.0, BioAssay Ultra 11.0, Inventory Ultra 11.0, E-Notebook Ultra 11.0, ChemDraw/Excel, and CombiChem/Excel, the ChemDraw and Chem3D ActiveX Pro Plugins & Controls. ChemFinder is supported for the CS Oracle Cartridge. In Parallels, it was not possible to access the Bioassay and Inventory Applications of ChemBioOffice Ultra. ChemFinder and ChemRXN are possibly the two most useful databases as they assist you in finding and planning and synthesising molecules. However, these databases are add-ons and some of the files will not open in Windows, as a specific application is required.

ChemBio Office Ultra’s 3D drawing application is very sophisticated, but the drawings are not rendered as smoothly as one would wish. Some of the objects are too pixellated around their edges. It is also not possible to copy and paste the structures directly into the Mac version of MS Word. To capture and insert the images into a Mac version of Word, I used Snapz Pro. However, text and other data are easily copied into the application as well as into Excel.

A big plus is the application's ability to indicate types of surfaces as well as show different types of models from ball and stick or wire mesh to space filling models of the molecule being used. Molecular orbital images (as solids and wire mesh) can also be depicted to show molecular activity. A bonus in this application is the ability to provide atoms with their respective symbols without detracting from the model. Various surfaces, including Huckel and Connally models, are available. A translucent image of the orbitals is also available. Molecular orbital selections can also be utilized as LUMO or HOMOs, depending on the eV you would like to see.

Within the software, the ChemDraw structure of the molecule can be positioned alongside and in the same orientation as the 3D image. This is useful in understanding the molecule as well as the associated data, which can be obtained from the ChemDraw Ultra application or the subscription packages.


The menu at left is a list of the templates offered, all of which can be scaled to size to suit your needs. Some molecules (e.g. "supramolecules") cannot be automatically named. However, in ChemDraw, supramolecules can be redrawn and then named (e.g. (20S)-19-(2-(4,5-dihydroxy-2-(hydroxymethyl)-6-methoxytetrahydro-2H-pyran-3-yloxy)-2-hydroxyethyl)-3,6,9,13-tetrakis((S)-1,2-dihydroxyethyl)-16-((1S)-1,2-dihydroxypropyl)-5,8,14,17-tetrakis(hydroxymethyl)-4,7,10,12,15,18-hexaoxadocosane-1,2,20,21-tetraol). In Chem Draw, there are many molecules that can be drawn and automatically named.

Surface mapping colors can be altered according to your intent. Chemical structures can also be rotated, and have their properties pasted in with the structure.

Biological drawings and templates can be rotated through the Object menu. There is a good array of templates for biologists, including enzymes, receptors, ion channels, golgi, tRNA, micelles, endoplasmic reticulum, immunoglobin, ribosome and mitochondria. These can be drawn easily to suit the needs of biological drawings. Although very little has been written about the BioDraw component, it is still a very valuable tool for biologists. With it, pathways can be drawn, as well as enzymes, protein, RNA, DNA. The ChemDraw component allows for the drawing of biochemical reactions.

There also many other features in the templates that will make drawings easy and intuitive. The reaction is written next to the atom where the reaction has taken place, allowing for easy identification of the reaction site. Another useful component is that the reaction interpreter colors the component reactions.

The E-Notebook is a very handy tool for record keeping, allowing the management of electronic information. Managing information such as stoichiometry, analytical methods, spectra and other related information is simple and very efficient. Searches can be conducted using dates, key words, substructures and spreadsheets, just to name a few. You can customize the searches to suit your needs.

I tried the GAMESS IR/Raman predictions, which were useful in providing IR absorbance bands but unfortunately, most of the time it crashed before the calculations were completed.

The Help Menu is extremely informative and has a range of options incorporated in assisting the drawing and interpretation of the structure and the name. The hot keys are also very useful in enabling drawing corrections.

I have also tested this program using Windows Vista and it sometimes crashed the activation program. MestReC Std does not work properly. The latest version of ChemBio Office works even on Windows 7. I had the 12 version as a trial; upgrade is not for free.

ChemBio Office Ultra is a highly effective application that is simple and intuitive to use. It is a must have for all science researchers and educators. However, because not all scientists and educators use Windows, a Mac version should be released. Even doing this review using Parallels on my Mac slowed me down in exploring the depths and tricks of ChemBio Office Ultra. The professionalism in the application is a huge. The efficiency to keep track of your data, correlate chemical structures and their reactions provides a mechanism for deeper understanding of the intricacies of the biological and chemical worlds. Writing reports and assessments with this program takes the drudgery out of the workload!

Informatics and Bioinformatics
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ChemBioOffice Ultra From CambridgeSoft
The Good

A professional application with many functions, easy to use with databases on DVD. Writing reports and assessments with this program takes the drudgery out of the workload.

The Bad

Only for Windows. An upgrade to latest version is not free.

The Bottom Line

I highly recommend the application to students or people who work in life science.