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  • Current Events

    Happy Fourth of July

    Some 4th of July thoughts, reprinted from a few years ago, and still (as ever) relevant: This, at least, I have observed in forty-five years: that there are men who search for it [truth], whatever it is, wherever it may lie, patiently, honestly, with due humility, and that there are other men who battle endlessly… Read More
  • Drug Assays

    Cryptic Natural Products Appearing

    I last wrote about “cryptic natural products” here – this is the idea that there must be a great many interesting compounds produced by microorganisms that we have not seen yet. It’s for sure that there are many biosynthetic-looking gene clusters found in these species that don’t seem to be turned on most of the… Read More
  • Cancer

    How to Know When a New Target is Really a New Target

    This is an excellent article, and the title is self-recommending: “Common Pitfalls in Preclinical Cancer Target Validation”. The abstract speaketh the truth: An alarming number of papers from laboratories nominating new cancer drug targets contain findings that cannot be reproduced by others or are simply not robust enough to justify dr… Read More
  • Current Events

    The Merck Malware Attack

    As everyone will have seen, the last few days have brought news of yet another “ransomware” attack, this time from a piece of malware known most often as Petya. One unit of the (huge) container shipping company Maersk is known to have been affected, as is a branch of the French bank BNP Paribas, but I bring… Read More
  • Biological News

    Parkinson’s As An Autoimmune Disease: More Evidence

    For many complex diseases, you’ll find that there are a couple of hypotheses floating around them that are hard to prove and hard to disprove: one is that they’re actually caused by some (as yet unrecognized) infectious agent, and the other is that that they’re actually an autoimmune/inflammatory disorder. You can also recognize t… Read More
  • Cardiovascular Disease

    Hold On, Merck’s CETP Inhibitor Actually Works?

    Well, maybe. I have to admit that my first reaction was disbelief. Merck has come out this morning with a statement that its long-running outcomes trial with anacetrapib, their cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) inhibitor, had positive results. Specifically, they say that the trial. . . . . .met its primary endpoint, significantly reducing m… Read More
  • Biological News

    A Heroin Vaccine?

    Drug addiction is a terrible public health problem, and a terrible personal problem for anyone facing it. Giving addicts a better chance to break the drug-taking cycle would be a great benefit, but that’s been an elusive goal. There’s a possible biochemical solution that’s been proposed for years, though, that is recently getting… Read More
  • Business and Markets

    Following Up

    Here’s a question that I’m not sure if there’s a general answer to: if you’re putting together a drug discovery portfolio, what percentage of the projects should be new ones, and how many should be some form of follow-up? I say that there may not be a general answer because every place I’ve worked has… Read More
  • Biological News

    Thinking About Genetics and Disease

    Robert Plenge has an excellent post here, drawing on this recent paper from authors at Stanford. It’s on the idea of polygenic traits and disease, a very worthwhile subject considering what’s going on in the drug industry these days. I say that because I’ve been making the joke, for some time now, that if you were… Read More
  • Business and Markets

    Head Counts and Profits

    I’ve been meaning to link to this article by Frank David at Endpoints, on “leaner and meaner” pharma organizations. For many years now, the story has been about how drug companies are shedding staff, but David says that more recently, that hasn’t been the whole story: From 2011 to 2015, employee numbers actually increased at… Read More
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