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  • Business and Markets

    A Capacious Rat-Hole Indeed

    Today’s Wall Street Journal kicks off, right in the pole position above the fold, with an article about the total profit/loss figure for publically traded biotech firms, 1990-date. Care to hazard a guess? I surveyed lab colleagues today, and most guesses were something like “Hmm. . .must be a loss, I reckon.” One optimist thought… Read More
  • Cancer

    All the Myriad Ways

    Closely related to the patenting of biochemical pathways is the patenting of genes. I’m not completely thrilled with that, either, but it still makes a bit more sense to me. With these patents, you own the gene and uses for it, but you don’t get to claim everything else downstream of it (like the protein… Read More
  • Toxicology

    The Dose Makes the Poison

    If you want to fake it and pass yourself off as a drug discovery scientist – which will cause the velvet ropes to just disintegrate at all the exclusive clubs – then one phrase you can drop is “TI”. As in “We need to get the TI up for that”, or “What’s their TI?” It… Read More
  • Life in the Drug Labs

    Next on the Food Channel. . .

    I don’t know if everyone has been following the comments that are starting to accumulate around here after my posts, but there are some interesting ones. In response to “By Any Other Name”, below, I had a report that “a well-known organic chemistry professor” continues to taste various small molecules from his lab. The… Read More
  • Patents and IP

    Owning the Road

    I mentioned method-of-treatment patents last week, and it’s time for me to come back to the topic. These aren’t what people think of as “use patents” – the sort of thing you’d apply for when you discover a new use for a known compound. No, method-of-treatment patents seek to own an entire biochemical pathway, and… Read More
  • Blog Housekeeping

    The Last Word on Taste

    No time for real blogging for today, but I couldn’t let this one go by: Reader Steve C. passes on what has to be one of the worst examples from the old days of tasting new compounds. Back in 1886, Victor Meyer was the first to achieve a reasonable synthesis of bis(2-chloroethyl)sulfide. So, as people… Read More
  • Life in the Drug Labs

    Beyond the Teeth, Beyond the Pale

    The sense of smell is one thing – cast out from its central place in chemistry, it’s still an everyday presence. If you want a sense that’s really fallen from the sky of the science, try taste. I’m not old enough to remember the days when people routinely tasted their compounds, but such days there… Read More
  • Life in the Drug Labs

    By Any Other Name

    I mentioned the smell of organosilane compounds the other day, which makes me think of the ambiguous place that smells have in modern organic chemistry. In theory, we’re not supposed to smell anything in the lab, or even to be able to. Air-handling systems are supposed to whisk all that stuff away, and besides, we’re… Read More
  • Diabetes and Obesity

    Why Own the Car, When You Can Own the Road?

    I’ve written before about method-of-treatment patents, and now the subject makes today’s front page of the Wall Street Journal. They’ve picked a pure example of the breed. Hans-Ulrich Demuth at the University of Halle in Germany filed for a patent in 1996 on the use of inhibitors of dipeptidyl peptidase IV in the treatment of… Read More
  • The Scientific Literature

    Meetings and Their Discontents

    I haven’t been to any scientific conferences so far this year, and I have to admit that I in some ways I haven’t felt the lack. There are a few meetings that I enjoy more than others (Gordon conferences and Keystone meetings come to mind), but there are others that I’d have to be paid… Read More
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