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  • Biological News

    Zap the Zinc

    Zinc – can’t live without it, can’t get rid of it. That about sums up the situation with trying to figure out the metal’s many important roles in biology. A long, long list of proteins have zinc-binding functions (with the metalloproteases and the DNA-binding zinc-finger domains being two important ones that immediately come… Read More
  • Condensates: A New Organizing Principle in Cells?

    I wrote a couple of years ago about the idea of “condensates” inside cells – liquid-like droplets of proteins and other biomolecules that associate together in high concentration. That’s an odd idea for most all of us, because we’re used to thinking about cell compartments being membrane-enclosed and cellular anatomy b… Read More
  • Drug Assays

    Sorting Out Potential Antibiotics

    One of the tricky parts about trying to find new antibiotics is that many screening modes will just discover things that have been discovered before. You’d think that if you’re looking for “bug killers” that you could just run through the compound collection looking for stuff that, well, kills bugs, but the problem is that… Read More
  • Business and Markets

    Where’s All That Money Going? (Pharma Edition)

    There’s a lot of repatriated corporate money sloshing around these days thanks to the recent tax code changes. The larger pharma companies were certainly beneficiaries, with lots of foreign operating profits that they didn’t want to bring back to the US under the formerly higher corporate tax rates – you’ll recall that this… Read More
  • Press Coverage

    Gotta Be a Conclusion In Here Somewhere

    A couple of years ago, I wrote about how far too much of human nutrition research was unfit to draw conclusions from. This new story does nothing to make a person more confident in the field: it’s a detailed look at the lab of Brian Wansink at Cornell, where he hold an endowed chair. He’s… Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    Way Down There in the Pores

    Let’s get physical-organic. A big topic of research in recent years has been the properties of liquids and solids under boundary conditions. By that sweeping statement, I mean questions such as “When does a small cluster of metal atoms start to act like a small piece of bulk metal? Why is there a transition, and… Read More
  • Clinical Trials

    Cost of Trials

    There’s been an interesting discussion about pharma R&D productivity and drug pricing on Twitter the last few days – here’s the starting point, from John Tucker. His thesis is that the hefty rate of inflation for medical services/hospitalization, where the data seem alarmingly solid, is one of the things driving the problem. T… Read More
  • The Dark Side

    Down the Rabbit Hole With Alireza Heidari

    Thanks to a comment on yesterday’s blog post, I was able to read this extraordinary tale, which comes to us courtesy of Prof. William Grover at UC Riverside’s Bioengineering department. Go check it out – you’ll learn of one Alireza Heidari, who is apparently quite the polymath. He is the author of 115 papers, which… Read More
  • The Scientific Literature

    Not So Many Uncited Papers, Actually

    How many scientific papers drop into the void, never to be cited by anyone, ever again? There are all sorts of estimates floating around, many of them rather worryingly high, but this look at the situation by Nature suggests that things aren’t so bad. The idea that the literature is awash with uncited research goes… Read More
  • Clinical Trials

    Tetraphase and Their Troubles

    I wanted to provide an update of sorts to a piece from a few years back. This was the lawsuit brought by Mark Charest against Harvard et al. over royalties relating to Tetraphase, the antibiotics company founded by Andy Myers of their chemistry department out of his group’s synthetic work in the area. Charest believed… Read More
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