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February 3, 2010
A Modest Literature Proposal
Looking through the latest papers to show up in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, this one on BACE-1 inhibitor compounds caught my eye. Perhaps I'm about to be unfair to it. At any rate, I'm going to ask of it something it doesn't provide: data in something that's alive. Doesn't have to be a person, a dog, or even a rat. A cell would do: something with a membrane to cross, with metabolic processes, and with the ability to accept or reject someone's new compound. Enzymes just have to sit there and take whatever you throw at them; living systems fight back.
I sometimes think that we'd be better served if each of the medicinal chemistry journals were split. In J. Med. Chem.'s case, we would then have the Journal of In Vitro Medicinal Chemistry and the Journal of In Vivo Medicinal Chemistry. The criteria for publishing in the two journals would be exactly the same, except to get into the latter one, you would have at least had to have tried your compounds out on something besides an in vitro assay. Doesn't mean that they have to have worked - you just have to have looked.
Although the case of compounds with molecular weights of 900 that have four amides and a sulfonamide in them, and are directed against a target in the central nervous system, might still be a bit of a stretch. I supposed what irritates me about this paper is that it starts off talking about Alzheimer's disease. And that's natural enough in a study dedicated to finding inhibitors of BACE-1, but the problem is, Alzheimer's disease occurs in human beings. And these compounds do not look to have much chance of doing anything inside any human's body. The best I can say for them is that they might give someone else an insight into something that they might be able to do to make something that might have a better chance of working.
Cranky folks like me would probably refer to the latter of my two new journals as just "J. Med. Chem.", and would refer to the former one by a variety of other easy-to-remember names. I offer this suggestion for free to the scientific publishing community, who will, I'm sure, reciprocate with things of equal value.
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