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  • Animal Testing

    Melanocortin: It’s Not Just For Lizards Any More

    If you’re looking for a good example of evolution-as-a-tinkerer, the melanocortin receptors would be a good place to start. From a single starting point, they’ve ended up as a family of related proteins that do completely different things. And the hormones that bind to them have radiated out as well: they’re all derived by process… Read More
  • Business and Markets

    A Grim Future? Here Are the Numbers.

    Here’s a bracing look at the state of the pharma business, especially regarding R&D costs and return on investment. And let me warn you – it’s not a feel-good sort of article, but the figures are hard to refute. The author, Kelvin Stott, comes out swinging: Here I apply a far simpler, much more robust… Read More
  • Business and Markets

    Merck In London – A Hub, or Not?

    News comes today that Merck is going to put in a new research site in London. I’m not sure if anyone saw that coming – their previous UK research site is long gone, and seems now to be turning into housing developments. And I’m sure that the government is very happy to announce this sort… Read More
  • Blog Housekeeping

    Holiday Synthesis: Cranberry Lime Pie

    This is one that I tried out this year for Thanksgiving, and it seemed to go over well. It’s a version of a recipe published by Bon Appetit, stripped of some frou-frou and with the preparation modified a bit.  You’ll need cranberries, eggs, limes, sugar, butter (room temperature), and some sort of crust material (see… Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    Stereochemical Mysteries, Solved

    Ask a chemist (I’ll do) about optical rotation, and you’ll get a confident answer about how right- and left-handed isomers of chiral compounds will rotate polarized light that shines through a solution of one of them. Ask one of us exactly how it does that, and in 99 cases out of a hundred, you’ll witness… Read More
  • Chemical Biology

    HAT Inhibitors: Interpret With Care

    There are quite a few histone deacetylase inhibitors out there, from research tools to FDA-approved drugs. Those inhibit the enzymes that remove the acetyl epigenetic markers from histone proteins – but what about inhibitors of the enzymes that put them on? Those are histone acetyltransferases (HATs), and they’ve naturally been the subj… Read More
  • The Scientific Literature

    An Odd Paper?

    Nanoparticles came up around here the other day, and now a reader sends along a new paper in the field that’s. . .a bit odd. Maybe more than a bit. It’s been accepted at ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, and you have to wonder what the referee reports were like. It’s titled “Earthicle: The Design… Read More
  • Chemical Biology

    Poke Holes Through Your Membranes. It’s Fun.

    The cell membrane – the fundamental architecture of living things, the foundation of how our very bodies are organized – is a major pain in the behind. I express this ungrateful opinion merely because over the years it has rejected entry to some of my best ideas for drug candidates, and I bear a grudge. Read More
  • Chemical News

    How Many of Those Compounds Are Crap?

    A reader sent along a note about this letter to Nature Medicine earlier in the year. It’s about drug repurposing, and more specifically about the Drug Repurposing Hub at the Broad Institute. This is a collection of nearly 5,000 compounds, curated and annotated with their histories and activities. It was not a straightforward task: . Read More
  • Clinical Trials

    Not How You Speed the Process Up, Exactly

    Now, this truly does not sound like the way to run a clinical trial. Dr. William Halford of the Rational Vaccines company invited 20 patients to St. Kitts for a trial of a putative herpes vaccine. The consent forms explicitly stated that this was done to evade the jurisdiction of the US Food and Drug… Read More
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