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  • The Scientific Literature

    Dealing With the Literature

    I’ve requests from time to time to share some tips about dealing with the scientific literature. Which is indeed a problem, on several levels, and has been for a long time now. So here’s what I have to offer, and I hope it helps. A large-scale problem is what journals to even look at. I… Read More
  • Drug Development

    Drug Approvals Over the Last Ten Years

    Here’s a look back at the last ten years of FDA drug approvals, and it’s a pretty encouraging read. As the authors mention, in the early 2000s there was quite a bit of worry about the directions that drug research (and drug approvals) might be taking. We were getting to the end of some of… Read More
  • Molnupiravir: Last of the Small-Molecule Coronavirus Hopes?

    Update: the day after this post appeared, Merck and Ridgeback announced some preliminary positive data on reduction of viral load in treated patients. The full Phase II data should be coming soon? A lot of people have been wondering about what’s up with a small-molecular antiviral compound that’s been in the news on and off… Read More
  • How to Administer RNA – And How to Do It Again

    As the world knows, the mRNA vaccines for the coronavirus are proving to be very effective. That’s welcome news for the obvious pandemic reasons, but it’s also welcome validation for a technique that’s been in the works for many years now. I’ll take a moment to re-emphasize how fortunate we are that so much of… Read More
  • Early March Vaccine Thoughts

    Some thoughts about the current vaccine trials and data, some of which are probably obvious, but which might be worth bringing together: First, as many have been mentioning, it’s tempting but quite difficult to compare the vaccines (and vaccine candidates) head-to-head by looking at their phase III data. I would only feel safe doing this… Read More
  • A Malaria Vaccine Candidate

    This story has been passed around a lot the last few days, and I’ve had several people ask me what I’ve thought of it. It’s on a really interesting possibility for a malaria vaccine, and part of the narrative hook is that it’s using mRNA technology, which is about as attention-getting a topic these days… Read More
  • 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