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  • Biological News

    The Vapor Trail I Referred To

    I mentioned the other day that not everything in that Stuart Schreiber interview sounded sane to me, (although more of it does than I’d expected). The interviewer, Joanna Owens, asks him to expand on a statement he made about ten years ago: famously (in some circles, at any rate) Schreiber said that he wanted to… Read More
  • Life in the Drug Labs

    Mutter, Mutter, Mutter

    I spent my morning wandering through the labs with an inventory sheet in my hand, muttering about what kind of research organization this is if nobody has any triflic anhydride, damn it. For the non-chemists in the audience, this is pretty reactive stuff. It turns alcohols into trifluoromethanesulfonate esters, which nomenclature has been understan… Read More
  • Academia (vs. Industry)

    Stuart Schreiber on Stuart Schreiber

    The April issue of Drug Discovery Today has an intriguing interview (PDF file) with Stuart Schreiber of Harvard. Schreiber is an only partially human presence in the field, as a listing of his academic appointments will make clear: chairman, with an endowed professorship, of the Department of Chemistry at Harvard, investigator at the Howard Hughes… Read More
  • Odd Elements in Drugs

    Odd Elements in Drugs

    I had a question recently about why some chemical elements don’t appear much in pharmaceuticals. Boron was one example – the first boron-containing drug (Velcade, from Millennium) was approved just recently. But it hasn’t been for lack of trying. Starting in the 1980s, several drug companies took a crack at boronic acids as head g… Read More
  • Drug Development

    The March of Folly Leader Board

    The first comment to the original March of Folly post below mirrors the e-mail I’ve received: the people’s choice for the technology most-likely-to-be-embarrassing is. . .(rustling of envelope): RNA interference. There’s a good case to be made for that, and it doesn’t contradict my oft-stated opinion that RNAi is going to be… Read More
  • Blog Housekeeping

    Welcome Back!

    It’s a relief to finally be able to post again. My previous platform ran into a major glitch last week, and it was only after a few days that I realized that none of my new posts were getting through. So here’s the new site, run from a spiffy Movable Type interface. That means that… Read More
  • Drug Industry History

    The March of Folly

    Thinking about molecular modeling, as I did in the last post, brings up another topic: when you go back to the late 1980s, in the real manic phase of the technological hype, what brings you up short is realizing that these folks were planning on doing all this with 1980s hardware. That puts things in… Read More
  • Drug Industry History

    Reality’s Revenge

    Molecular modeling is a technology with a past. Specifically, it’s a past of overoptimistic predictions (often made, to be fair, by people who didn’t understand what they were talking about.) Back in the late 1980s, when I started in the drug industry, modeling was going to take over the world and pretty darn soon, too. Read More
  • Biological News

    It’s a Bacterial Planet, You Know

    You’ve probably heard of the hypothesis that a reasonable amount of dirt is good for you, especially in childhood. (My kids are certainly taking no chances.) The idea is that the immune system needs a certain amount of challenge to develop properly, so trying to live too antiseptic a life is a mistake. I think… Read More
  • Chem/Bio Warfare

    Osmium Tetroxide, Of All Things

    This morning brings the news, via ABC, that the recently discovered bomb plot in London involved a quantity of osmium tetroxide. That’s a surprise. I know the reagent well, but it’s not what anyone would call a common chemical, despite the news story above that calls it “easily obtained.” It’s quite odd that someone co… Read More
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