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  • Current Events

    Get Real

    Since this is going to be a post about the coronavirus, let’s start off with this PSA: wash your hands. These viruses have a lipid envelope that is crucial to their structure and function, and soaps and detergents are thus very effective at inactivating them. It’s fast, it’s simple, and it’s one of the more… Read More
  • Clinical Trials

    Crossing Fingers

    I’ve mentioned it in passing before, but it bears repeating: this is a really unusual moment in drug discovery. We have simultaneously more new modes of action for therapy coming on in the clinic than I can ever recall, and some older ones are getting reworked to join the action. This short overview is a… Read More
  • Cancer

    Vitamin C and Immuno-oncology

    Linus Pauling was a fearsomely great scientist who is remembered by the general public for his advocacy of megadoses of Vitamin C, a favorite topic of his later in life. Infectious disease, cancer: Pauling advised gram amounts of ascorbic acid and had a lot of theorizing to offer about why that was beneficial. So while… Read More
  • Clinical Trials

    Idiosyncratic Tox

    It’s our high failure rate in clinical trials that makes the drug industry what it is. And two of the biggest factors in that failure rate are picking the wrong targets/mechanisms, and unexpected toxicity. The first is clearly a failure of our understanding of human biology, and the only remedy I can see for that… Read More
  • Drug Industry History

    Two Tribes

    I’m sitting in an MIT conference on AI in drug discovery/development as I write this. One of the speakers here (Mathai Mammen, J&J/Janssen) just made a good point – not a new one, but a solid one that deserves some thought. He called for “bilingual” people, by which he means people who have some fluency… Read More
  • Alzheimer's Disease

    Congo Red

    Many roots of organic chemistry, and of medicinal chemistry in particular, often originate in what might seem like an unlikely place: the dyestuff industry of the late 19th century. I had already known this to some degree, but writing the historical vignettes in The Chemistry Book really brought it home to me. And if you… Read More
  • Chemical News

    More VSC Voodoo

    OK, it’s been a few years since I blogged about this particular weirdness, so let’s do some more. There have been a couple more recent reports of the effects of “vibrational strong coupling” on chemical reaction rates. What the heck is that? There’s some background in that link, but we can hand-wave our way through… Read More
  • Chemical Biology

    Membrane Surprises

    Drug discovery folks spend a good amount of time and effort dealing with cell membranes. Our drug candidates stick to them, get imbedded in them, might have to slip through them to get to their target proteins, or may target proteins that are localized in them, can get actively transported through them or actively pumped… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Fix The Nobels Already

    This paper comes out and states what chemists have known for some time now: the Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been changing over the years, very likely as a deliberate action on the part of the committee that awards it. It’s now more properly described as the award for “Chemistry or the Life Sciences”. That… Read More
  • In Silico

    Machine Learning for Antibiotics

    I know that I just spoke about new antibiotic discovery here the other day, but there’s a new paper worth highlighting that just came out today. A team from MIT, the Broad Institute, Harvard, and McMaster reports what is one of the more interesting machine-learning efforts I’ve seen so far, in any therapeutic area. This… Read More
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