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  • Biological News

    Antibody Design, Publicly Challenged

    Comes now some rather disturbing news in the antibody field. These things are extremely important, both as therapeutics and as research reagents, and developing them for either purpose is no stroll down the garden walk. There are a number of techniques for raising and producing antibodies (see that first link), but they all have their… Read More
  • Life in the Drug Labs

    The Killer Experiment

    Bruce Booth has some thoughts here on a recent Harvard Business Review piece on startups, but don’t let the fact that it’s from HBR put you off from taking a look. The original article is focused on innovation in general, but Booth ties it more directly to biopharma culture, and his advice certainly looks sound… Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    Absolute Configuration With Electrons

    When I first wrote about small-molecule structures obtained by microED (electron diffraction), I wondered if there were some way to get absolute stereochemistry out of the data (as you can with X-ray diffraction under the right conditions). Several groups have been working on just that problem, and this new paper now shows that it can… Read More
  • Chemical Biology

    Myristoylation Probes, Rethought

    The need for good chemical probes continues, and (sadly) so does the use of crappy ones. That’s what I took away from this recent paper from a multicenter team out of London. They’re looking at commonly used probes for inhibition of N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) enzymes, and it’s one of those good-news/bad-news situations. N-myrist… Read More
  • Biological News

    What’s Artificial Life, Anyway?

    Do you know the Ship of Theseus problem? That one was first stated in its canonical form by Plutarch in his Parallel Lives, speaking of the ship that the hero used to return to Athens from Crete after slaying the Minotaur. Here we go: The ship on which Theseus sailed with the youths and returned… Read More
  • Aging and Lifespan

    VCAM1 As a Player in the Aging Brain

    Possible intervention targets for age-related degeneration are always welcome, particularly when they come bearing experimental evidence, and even more so when they relate to the central nervous system. That’s the case with this new paper, from a multicenter team led out of Stanford. Interestingly, this also ties in with the well-publicized … Read More
  • In Silico

    An Intro to Deep Learning

    I wanted to mention a timely new book, Deep Learning for the Life Sciences, that I’ve received a copy of. It’s by Bharath Ramsundar at Computable, Peter Eastman at Stanford, Pat Walters at Relay, and Vijay Pande at Andreessen Horowitz, and I’ve been using it to shore up my knowledge in this area. From what… Read More
  • Chemical News

    The Downside of Chemistry Automation

    Automation in chemistry (especially industrial chemistry) is so pervasive that we hardly even notice it any more. (I have a whole talk that I give that’s partly on that very subject). But what is automation for? That’s the subject of this short piece in ACS Med. Chem. Letters by Jeffrey Pan of AbbVie. The answer… Read More
  • Pharmacokinetics

    There Is No “Depression Gene”

    I wrote a couple of years ago about the long-running study of mutations in a serotonin transporter gene. Over the years, polymorphism in the gene have been correlated with all sorts of human behavior and psychiatry, in keeping with the importance of serotonin signaling in human cognition. Depression, anxiety, that whole end of human behavior… Read More
  • Drug Development

    The Latest on Drug Failure and Approval Rates

    We now have an updated look at clinical success rates in the industry, and it’s a timely topic. Last year there were 59 approvals by the FDA (a new record), and the year before was good as well. So the question is always whether such numbers are artifacts, random noise, or part of a real… Read More
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