It’s time for the yearly roundup here of books on medicinal chemistry and drug discovery. I’ll be doing another post on science books for a more general readership; this one is mostly for folks in the business, one way or another. As usual, the list builds on last year’s recommendations, with updates and reader suggestions incorporated along the way.
First, some histories and overviews. One such (from 2011) is The Evolution of Drug Discovery, and it still seems to be the biggest history of the field. Jack Li also has a 2014 history of the industry, Blockbuster Drugs, looking at how things have been for the last twenty years or so. Case histories of individual drug projects can be found in Drugs: From Discovery to Approval by Rick Ng (2015 edition), and also in Walter Sneader’s Drug Discovery: A History. Longtime medicinal chemist Gene Cordes recently published Hallelujah Moments: Tales of Drug Discovery.
For general medicinal chemistry, a recommendation from several readers is Textbook of Drug Design and Discovery by Krogsgaard-Larsen et al. There’s also Bob Rydzewski’s Real World Drug Discovery: A Chemist’s Guide to Biotech and Pharmaceutical Research from 2008, and from 2013, there’s Drug Discovery: Practices, Processes, and Perspectives, by Jack Li and E. J. Corey. Several readers here have also recommended earlier versions of Silverman’s medicinal chemistry book, and now in its third edition: The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design and Drug Action. Readers have also recommended Camille Wermuth’s The Practice of Medicinal Chemistry, and it’s now in its fourth edition for 2015. Update: another one, just published in November, is Small Molecule Medicinal Chemistry: Strategies and Technologies. For getting up to speed, several readers recommend Graham Patrick’s An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry (2013). Similarly, Medicinal Chemistry: The Modern Drug Discovery Process (Pearson Advanced Chemistry) is a recent introductory textbook that I found to be well written.
A topic that occupies many medicinal chemists how has a two-volume overview from Wiley: Lead Generation. A good one-stop-shop for the fragment world is Fragment-Based Drug Discovery: Lessons and Outlook. On the thermodynamic side of things, there’s the recent Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Drug Binding. Other recent books that cover specific med-chem topics include Robert Copeland’s Evaluation of Enzyme Inhibitors in Drug Discovery: A Guide for Medicinal Chemists and Pharmacologists, which has gotten good reviews from readers here, Bioisosteres in Medicinal Chemistry by Brown et al. (also recommended by several readers), Scaffold Hopping in Medicinal Chemistry, Prodrugs and Targeted Delivery: Towards Better ADME Properties, and Protein-Protein Interactions in Drug Discovery. A book that is still in the pre-order stage, mentioned in the comments to this post, is Allosterism in Drug Discovery, a perennially hard and interesting topic.
For the world of process chemistry, one recent recommended book is Practical Process Research and Development – A guide for Organic Chemists by Neal Anderson (2012). Repic’s Principles of Process Research and Chemical Development in the Pharmaceutical Industry is older (1998), but comes recommended as well. In the Oxford Chemistry Primers series, there’s Process Development: Fine Chemicals from Grams to Kilograms by Stan Lee (no, not that Stan Lee) and Graham Robinson, Process Development: Physiochemical Concepts by John Atherton and Keith Carpenter. The Pilot Plant Real Book by Francis McConville is subtitled “A Unique Handbook”, and it’s been recommended by readers with experience in that unique environment.
For chemists who want to brush up on their biology, readers recommended an earlier edition of this Terrence Kenakin book: A Pharmacology Primer: Techniques for More Effective and Strategic Drug Discovery, as well as his Pharmacology in Drug Discovery: Understanding Drug Response. Joseph Cannon’s Pharmacology for Chemists has also been recommended. A more advanced book on pharmacology, recommended after this post went up, is Ehlert’s Affinity and Efficacy.
As has been the case for several years, Drug-Like Properties: Concepts, Structure Design and Methods from ADME to Toxicity Optimization by Kerns and Di, has been recommended by numerous readers as a textbook and reference (now in a 2016 edition). The same authors have also published Blood-Brain Barrier in Drug Discovery: Optimizing Brain Exposure of CNS Drugs and Minimizing Brain Side Effects for Peripheral Drugs. Another PK-centric book is Lead Optimization for Medicinal Chemists: Pharmacokinetic Properties of Functional Groups and Organic Compounds. On the clinical end of things, a well-reviewed textbook is Concepts in Clinical Pharmacokinetics. For getting up to speed in this area in general, there’s Pocket Guide: Pharmacokinetics Made Easy by Donald Birkett, which will give you some background to understand what’s going on, and the Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics Quick Guide, which has also been recommended.
In the related field of toxicology, the standard textbooks are Casarett & Doull’s Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons and Hayes’ Principles and Methods of Toxicology. A heavy-duty reference is the Handbook of Toxicologic Pathology, and the recently updated Comprehensive Guide to Toxicology in Nonclinical Drug Development also comes recommended in the comments below. Another book on toxicology in drug development is Preclinical Safety Evaluation of Biopharmaceuticals: A Science-Based Approach to Facilitating Clinical Trials, from 2008. There’s a new book in this field written for the educated-layman audience, Modern Poisons, which could well be interesting.
Update: here are two suggestions for formulations: Pharmaceutical Preformulation and Formulation: A Practical Guide and the forthcoming (in April) Oral Formulation Roadmap (From Early Discovery to Development).
Statistics are a weak point with a lot of scientists, and in this field, Jerrold Zar’s Biostatistical Analysis comes recommended. For getting up to speed in this area, a well-reviewed textbook is Biostatistics: The Bare Essentials, and there’s also Essential Biostatistics: A Nonmathematical Approach.
Update: people have also asked about chemoinformatics. From what I can see, Chemoinformatics For Drug Discovery was recommended as an introduction for those outside the field. Many other books in this area are starting to show their age, though (there were quite a few in the 2003-2005 period), and I would expect these to have been superseded by now. A recent book in the computational chemistry field in general is In Silico Medicinal Chemistry, from reader Nathan Brown.
For bridging the academia-industry gap, I can definitely recommend A Practical Guide to Drug Development in Academia, which has a lot of solid advice for academic researchers looking to get into the pharma world through their own research. I can also recommend Navigating the Path to Industry: A Hiring Manager’s Advice for Academics Looking for a Job in Industry. Both of these books fill very important gaps and do it well.