Skip to main content
  • Analytical Chemistry


    In my experience, most organic and medicinal chemists are always ready to hear about the latest results in two branches of the science: things that explode and things with weird smells. Maybe we are in our way “singularly in touch with the primitive promptings of humanity”, as Captain Grimes says in Decline and Fall (although… Read More
  • Covid-19

    The J&J Vaccine at the FDA

    The briefing documents are out at the FDA site for Friday’s hearing on the J&J vaccine. Here’s a summary at STAT from Matthew Herper and Helen Branswell, and I agree with their take: overall, the numbers look good. Update: here’s a good Twitter thread from Hilda Bastian, and here’s one from Eric Topol. Like every… Read More
  • Covid-19

    More on mRNA Vaccine Manufacturing

    Here’s a good article from the Washington Post that updates some details that I talked about in this post on the lipids used in the mRNA vaccines and in this one about their overall manufacturing process. It focuses on Acuitas, who make the two proprietary lipids that are used in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Actually, if… Read More
  • The Central Nervous System

    How Antidepressants Work, At Last?

    Over the years I’ve very much enjoyed being startled by the scientific literature, and there haven’t been many times when I’ve been more surprised than I was this morning. I’ve been making references on this blog for years about how we don’t even know how antidepressants work, but if this new paper is correct, then… Read More
  • Covid-19

    Coronavirus Variants: Down to the Details

    It’s my impression that the pace of headlines and tweets, etc. about the many COVID-19 variants has increased recently (and it wasn’t exactly an unexplored topic before). Some of the coverage is just horse-race stuff (here comes this one, around the curve comes that one), but some of it is downright alarmist. And while I’m… Read More
  • Cancer

    Cancer and Gene Therapy

    There’s news today that Bluebird has suspended its gene therapy work on sickle cell disease because of two cases of cancer in its treatment population. Another had been reported in 2018, so that takes us to two cases of myelodysplastic syndrome and one case of myeloid leukemia (which can be a sequel of MDS in… Read More
  • Clinical Trials

    GLP-1 and Obesity

    Let’s have a look at a paper that came out recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. It shows strong results in a therapeutic area that a lot of people have spent a lot of effort on: obesity. I’ve been kicking around the idea of reviewing the history of anti-obesity drug discovery, but it’s… Read More
  • Covid-19

    Antibody-Dependent Enhancement and the Coronavirus Vaccines

    I’m getting a lot of queries about antibody-dependent enhancement these days, and I can only assume that’s because there’s a lot of talk about this making the rounds of various social media platforms. Many of the people who are contacting me sound a lot more worried than I would have thought, so that prompts me… Read More
  • Covid-19

    Does Prior Exposure to Coronaviruses Protect You?

    There’s a new paper out that clears up some of our thinking about the current pandemic and what protection people might have had before the latest coronavirus showed up. As so many people know by now, there are a lot of coronaviruses running around out there, and they are responsible for a small-but-real fraction of… Read More
  • Covid-19

    How You Make an Adenovirus Vaccine

    The other day I had a look at the process used to make the mRNA vaccines, so I thought it would be a good idea to do the same for the adenovirus vector ones, such as J&J, Oxford/AstraZeneca, CanSino, Gamaleya et al. It’s a different system, with its own advantages and disadvantages, and that’s the… Read More