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  • The Central Nervous System

    More Faces in Even More Clouds

    Talking about the urge to quantify things – even the stubbornly unquantifiable – leads me back to what I spoke of earlier (“Faces in the Clouds”, Oct. 20) about finding patterns even in random noise. I think these are two aspects of the same phenomenon. We seem to have this information-processing machinery in our brains… Read More
  • Business and Markets

    What Sort of Number Did You Have in Mind?

    There’s a good article by Leandro Herrero in the October issue of Scrip magazine (no online content without a subscription.) He’s teeing off on the overuse of numerical measures in the drug industry (and industry in general:) “Your business education and experience tell you that if you can’t measure, you can’t manage.… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Et in Arcadia Ego

    There’s a backlog of pharmaceutical news to catch up on, but I couldn’t resist linking to this article from today’s New York Times. It’s a pet subject of mine, and the only fault I can find is the tone of surprise that comes through in it. It’s titled “Don’t Blame Columbus,” and it reports on… Read More
  • Chem/Bio Warfare

    A Mystery Gas?

    Since I did a multipart series on chemical warfare last month, I’ve had several e-mails asking for my take on the Russian gas used to break up the Chechen hostage situation. The information that I can get from wire-service reports doesn’t make for a very coherent picture, but I imagine it’s not very coherent in… Read More
  • Business and Markets

    O Brave New Market, That Has Such Medicines In It

    I mentioned that Amgen had a rough time with their leptin program, but there are people who benefit tremendously from the protein. There are some people (very few, actually) who are similar to the ob/ob mouse, in that they have a mutation in their leptin protein gene. They tend to have a lot of metabolic… Read More
  • Diabetes and Obesity

    Of All Sad Words. . .

    If you want a good example of how something that seems completely sensible can backfire in drug development, look no further than the story of leptin. I remember when this peptide hormone was discovered in rodents in 1995: the news really made a splash among groups working on obesity and metabolic therapies. If you raised… Read More
  • Patents and IP

    The Latest Mudfight

    Today’s court battle is between Pfizer and two rival drug teams. On Tuesday, Pfizer was issued a US patent relating to Viagra, and that same day they filed lawsuits against Eli Lilly and Icos (one the one hand) along with Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline on the other. Both are developing rivals to Viagra (Cialis and Levitra… Read More
  • Drug Development

    Structure-Inactivity Relationship Would Be More Like It

    Talking about pattern recognition leads a medicinal chemist to thoughts of SAR, structure-activity relationships. We spend a lot of time putting together tables of data – changes on one part of the molecule tabulated on one axis, changes in some other region on the other axis, and boxes filled in with the assay results. And… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Faces In the Clouds

    In the last post I mentioned the tendency people have to look for causes. It’s innate; there’s nothing to be done. We’re conditioned by the world of our senses: a leaf falls in front of us, so we look up to find the tree. And this works fine, most of the time, for the macroscopic… Read More
  • Cancer

    Not Even Funny

    I’m late to this particular party – see Charles Murtaugh and Medpundit for the low-down on a particularly irritating LA Times column. (It requires registration to read, which is fairly irritating all by itself.) In a nutshell, the writer attempts to blame environmental factors for many cases of breast cancer, specifically chemicals prod… Read More