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  • Cancer

    Watch Your Covalent Drugs Carefully

    EGFR is a growth-factor receptor protein that’s well known as a cancer target, and there are a number of drugs that target its kinase activity in order to shut it down. But as is also well known, many cancer cells are rather genomically unstable, and throw off mutations constantly. One of the most common problems… Read More
  • Business and Markets

    The Latest on China

    China’s impact on biopharma has been a perennial story in the press (and on this blog). The big picture has been the interplay between the “China as a source of cheap scientific labor” story, the “Big Western drug companies setting up divisions in China” one, and “When will China have its own research-driven dru… Read More
  • Chemical News

    Ron Breslow, 1931-2017

    It has not been a good week for the Columbia chemistry department, or for chemistry in general, come to think of it. Ron Breslow, who had been ill for some time, has just passed as well, following Gilbert Stork. Breslow was an unusual organic chemist, with interests in several different areas. He ranged from physical… Read More
  • Building A House, Building a Cell

    I’ve been thinking (for a long time now!) about how to explain to people outside of the field how odd drug discovery really is. And that comes down to explaining how odd things are inside a living cell. They’re very odd indeed. This has been brought home to me, yet again, by a recent deep… Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    A Rain of Tiny Droplets

    You might be surprised to know how little we chemists know about what our reactions are really doing. A case in point is the “on water” field. Water is generally not the greatest solvent for a lot of classic organic chemistry reactions, since the reactants, reagents, and products are often not very soluble (or are… Read More
  • Chemical News

    Gilbert Stork, 1921-2017

    Word reached me late yesterday that Gilbert Stork had died. His most recent paper was published just last month in Org. Lett., and included what will surely become a famous footnote in the chemical literature. 22. A plan for conversion of 33a to 1 was (with various deprotections/protections) C4-CH2OH to C4-CO2H, followed by Barton’s condition… Read More
  • Business and Markets

    Mongersen Fails

    Readers may recall a post here last year about an odd trial of an antisense drug for Crohn’s disease. Celgene had acquired the drug (mongersen, GED-301) from Nogra Pharma of Ireland back in 2014 as a late-stage candidate, and for a while, things looked good. In fact, going back and reading the stories, you’d think that… Read More
  • Biological News

    Bad Cells. So Many Bad Cells.

    Let’s file this one under “We’ve seen this before, and I’ll bet we’ll see it again”. Anyone who’s worked for some years in cell culture (or with people who have) should appreciate the dangers of cell line contamination. You can get mycoplasma, you can get other cell lines entirely (particularly others that… Read More
  • Academia (vs. Industry)

    Decline of the Midwest?

    Here’s an article at The Atlantic (via the Washington Monthly) that should concern anyone involved in R&D. It’s about the funding problems of many of the large public universities, particularly in the Midwest. Chemists will recognize several historically strong departments in that part of the country – but may also have noted… Read More
  • Drug Development

    Drug Development Costs Revisited

    A recent paper on drug development costs did not impress me. But if possible, it impressed Matthew Herper at Forbes even less. That’s the one where the authors looked at a number of companies that had been around long enough to develop one drug – they figured that this would give a cleaner read on… Read More