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  • Chemical Biology

    Rewiring Plankton. And Reality.

    OK, the “Silicon Valley Meets Biotech” subject has come up around here numerous times, most recently here, about a startup out of YCombinator called Verge Genomics. But several people have called my attention to this proposal over at (yes) YCombinator, so by gosh, it’s coming up again. Because this is just too much to believe. Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    Seeing Ethylene

    Plenty of people know that there’s a gas given off by ripe fruit that can itself accelerate ripening in others – the “banana in a bag” technique. That gas is of course ethylene, identified as such in plants in the early 20th century, and the more chemistry you know, the odder it seems that it… Read More
  • Biological News

    Rewiring Bacteria

    Earth is basically a bacteria planet, despite humankind’s naked-eye-level profile. They’ve been here unfathomably longer than we have, they live in plenty of places where we can’t survive, and their biomass far outranks ours. This paper will show you just how adaptable the little creatures are. Wild-type E. coli (like many other… Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    Small Molecule Structures: A New World

    Word has been spreading rapidly about this preprint on Chemrxiv.org, from a joint UCLA/Caltech team. It details the use of the cryo-electron microscopy technique called micro-electron diffraction (MicroED) for the structure determination of small molecules, and it’s absolutely startling. I read it last night, with many exclamations along the… Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    Blue Light Coming Out of the NMR

    I really enjoyed this paper from Merck’s Process R&D group, but some readers will be saying “Yeah, but that’s just because you really enjoy photochemistry reactions”. The latter part is true, but it’s the sort of paper that we need to help drain some of the voodoo out of all the exciting photochemistry work that… Read More
  • Cancer

    Replacing Antibodies With Small Molecules

    As anyone who’s been following the oncology field knows, antibodies against either the PD-1 receptor or its ligand PD-L1 are about the biggest things going in the field right now. Hundreds of clinical trials are underway against various tumor types and in various combinations, in the effort to see how far the immuno-oncology idea can… Read More
  • Cancer

    The Cancer Stem Cell Saga

    In this 2015 post I looked at the cancer stem cell field – the idea that some tumor types are kept going by a stem cell population, and that unless these are dealt with, no durable response to treatment can be expected. A number of pharma companies have looked into this idea, most famously (and… Read More
  • Biological News

    Sunlight And the Brain

    One of the impressive things about biochemistry and cell biology is how it can produce physical correlates to things that we know and experience, but have no detailed explanation for. There’s a really interesting example out in Cell that has to do with the effects of sunlight on mood and learning. Those effects are real, but… Read More
  • Chemical News

    Graphene: You Don’t Get What You Pay For

    Since I was going on yesterday about the need to validate tool reagents, I wanted to note that this problem is not confined to biochemical applications. Here’s an article looking at commercial sources of graphene, the carbon monolayer material that’s been the subject of so much research the last few years. There are a number… Read More
  • Chemical News

    CDK Inhibitors: Purchase With Caution

    Cyclin-dependent kinase (CDKs) have been drug targets for quite a while now. There are 20 different ones, and they help to regulate a whole list of important functions, particularly involving the cell cycle (which has made them of great interest in oncology research). There are three approved drugs in the area so far: Kisqali (ribociclib)… Read More
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