Analyzing user-generated online content for drug discovery: Development and use of MedCrawler

Andreas Helfenstein, Päivi Tammela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Motivation: Ethnopharmacology, or the scientific validation of traditional medicine, is a respected starting point in drug discovery. Home remedies and traditional use of plants are still widespread, also in Western societies. Instead of perusing ancient pharmacopeias, we developed MedCrawler, which we used to analyze blog posts for mentions of home remedies and their applications. This method is free and accessible from the office computer.

Results: We developed MedCrawler, a data mining tool for analyzing user-generated blog posts aiming to find modern 'traditional' medicine or home remedies. It searches user-generated blog posts and analyzes them for correlations between medically relevant terms. We also present examples and show that this method is capable of delivering both scientifically validated uses as well as not so well documented applications, which might serve as a starting point for follow-up research.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1205-1209
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1182 Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology
  • 220 Industrial biotechnology

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