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  • The Scientific Literature

    Back in the Stacks

    I don’t want to give the impression that there are hundreds of gems buried among the papers that no one references. Sometimes no one references them because they’re not worth very much, or because no one can get ahold of the actual article. I had a old reference turn up the other day from the… Read More
  • Chem/Bio Warfare

    More Ricin

    I’ve had some interesting e-mail on the subject, which I thought I’d address here for the curious. One person mentioned the possibility of ricin dissolved in DMSO. I have to say that that’s a nasty thought, because DMSO certainly does increase skin permeability. But I don’t know how soluble a large peptide like this would… Read More
  • The Scientific Literature

    The Library of Babel

    Spent some quality time in the library at work today, digging into another aspect of a project that I’m working on. As you get deeper into the literature on a given scientific subject, some things happen over and over. There will be articles that everyone refers to, the standards that are like showing a form… Read More
  • Chem/Bio Warfare


    There’s a report today that British authorities have rounded up several terrorist suspects in London – and that they had small quantities of ricin. So, what is the stuff, how bad is it, where did they get it, and what did they plan to do with it? Ricin’s a protein from castor beans – yep… Read More
  • Current Events

    And Another Thing. . .

    I’ve been staying away from all the Clonaid / Raelian hoo-hah. As soon as I realized who was behind this, I rolled my eyes and braced for the worst. I first read about the Raelians in Donna Kossy’s extraordinary book Kooks (which I see is now in a second edition, which I must purchase very… Read More
  • Autism

    Compare and Contrast

    Dwight Meredith over at PLA pointed out to me that the UC-Davis study on the prevalence of autism in California is online. It hasn’t been published in a journal yet, and the JAMA paper I mentioned last week doesn’t reference it. But the editorial comment in the same issue does. As it should, since there’s… Read More
  • Drug Assays

    Ratio Rationalizations

    We spend a lot of time in drug discovery thinking about ratios. As we accumulate data about our compounds, we start ranking them by how selective they are – “This one’s 10x versus the other receptor subtype and that one’s 50x,” you’ll hear someone say, or “We’ve got to get compounds at least 100-fold… Read More
  • Autism

    The Rate of Autism

    There’s a new study out in JAMA (free full text here) on the incidence of autism in the US population. Before getting to what the article actually says, it’s worth seeing what the media are saying it says. The New York Times headlines it “Study Shows Increase in Autism”, and Yahoo runs it as “Study… Read More
  • Alzheimer's Disease

    Back on the Air

    After a (reasonably) refreshing holiday break, Lagniappe is back. Thanks to everyone who kept doggedly hitting this site during the last few days – I admire your persistance. I notice from my site’s counter that I get a small but steady flow of Google hits for various miracle cures. I said some nasty things about… Read More
  • Autism

    Clearance Sale

    While I’m on the subject, I’ll mention some details that will be familiar to my fellow medicinal chemists. The body has a lot of mechanisms to deal with foreign substances. We assume that all our drugs are going to be handled by them, one way or another, and we just try to keep the stuff… Read More