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  • Cancer

    Making and Measuring Multivalency

    Here’s an unusual paper that’s studying receptor behavior on cell surfaces by use of atomic force microscopy. (Here’s the SI file, which is free to access). The authors took the marketed VEGF inhibitor vandetanib (VD6474) and attached it through linkers to the AFM tip, and then scanned around the surface of live human umbilical v… Read More
  • Drug Assays

    Comparing Compound Collections

    A common question – well, it should be a common question, anyway – is “How do I make sure that this compound collection is a useful one to screen?” There are alternative forms that come down to the same issues – if you’re putting together a new focused screening set, what should be in it?… Read More
  • Biological News

    Sydney Brenner, 1927-2019

    A scientific giant, Sydney Brenner has died at the age of 92. He was present at the beginning of molecular biology – while in the chemistry department at Oxford, he car-pooled with Dorothy Hodgkin, Leslie Orgel, Jack Dunitz and others over to Cambridge to see Watson and Crick’s new model for the structure of DNA… Read More
  • Business and Markets

    Sorrento Therapeutics Is Not Happy

    I have not been a fan of Patrick Soon-Shiong and his approach to the biopharma business (and the publicity thereof). There’s a new lawsuit that (should its accusation hold up) will make anyone even less of a fan. Here’s a rundown at Endpoints, and one at Forbes. It’s a mess, so I’ll try to untangle… Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    A Close Look at Fragments

    Here’s a look from the D. E. Shaw research team at fragment binding, and even if you don’t do fragment-based drug discovery, it’s worth a read. That’s because the mechanisms by which fragments bind to proteins are most likely the fundamental ones by which larger molecules bind as well; this is the reductionist look at… Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    A Look at Proteins in Living Cells

    We spend a lot of time in this sort of work thinking about protein structures. Traditionally that’s been the province of X-ray crystallography, later joined by solution NMR, and more latterly by cryo-electron microscopy. Each of these has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but one big split is between the solid phase (X-ray… Read More
  • Academia (vs. Industry)

    Startup Culture, Starting

    Many readers of this blog work in the biopharma industry, naturally, and of those, many are in and around the (few) locations where a great many of the companies in the industry are born. I myself am in the Boston/Cambridge area, famously thick with companies large and small, and then you have the Bay area… Read More
  • Cancer

    No Pain, and No Worries?

    The FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) enzyme system has provided a number of headlines over the years. FAAH itself is involved in the brain’s endocannabinoid system – it clears neurotransmitters like anandamide – and a number of other biologically important hydroxyethylamide and acyltaurines. So the potential for inhibitors of it… Read More
  • Snake Oil

    More Quackery

    Yep, folks, we’re doing it wrong. Making these small molecules, these biologics, all of it – we worry about pharmacokinetics and exposure, about side effects and potency and selectivity, and all the time we could be dosing folks with magic water. That’s what you’d get out of reading the literature on “release-active dr… Read More
  • Animal Testing

    An Expensive Choice for Duke

    You may have seen the headlines about a large settlement ($112.5 million) that Duke University is paying the government. This goes back to Erin Potts-Kant, a clinical research coordinator at Duke Health, as well as (former) professor William Foster and (former) chief of the Pulmonary Division Monica Kraft. The details are many, and some of them… Read More
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