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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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January 4, 2013

An Article That Shows What Med-Chem Is Like?

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Posted by Derek

Here's a query that I received the other day that I thought I'd pass on to the readership: "What's the one journal article or book chapter that you'd assign to a class to show them what medicinal chemistry and drug discovery are really like?"

That's a tricky one, because (as in many fields) the "what it's really like" aspect doesn't always translate to the printed page. But I'd be interested in seeing some suggestions.

Comments (15) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Life in the Drug Labs | The Scientific Literature


1. Former Med Chemist on January 4, 2013 10:32 AM writes...

Change it to "used to be like" and I would nominate the chapter on Cimetidine in Chronicles of Drug Discovery Vol.1, written by Robin Ganellin. The first blockbuster drug survived attempts by managment to stop the program by becoming a black op (no pun intended, Sir James).

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2. Helical_Investor on January 4, 2013 10:56 AM writes...

I'd take it back a step and start with the introduction of Rick Ng's book 'Drugs: From Discovery to Approval'. Then, for med chem, I'd look to the 'small molecule drugs' chapter with a concentration on the rational design approach (and the case studies). A favorite book for introduction to the space, and improved in the latest edition with the inclusion of case studies.


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3. Helical_Investor on January 4, 2013 11:01 AM writes...

And of course any vendor with a 'scheme' (product, service, or whatever) to 'improve' drug discovery and early development should have a few powerpoint slides that describe the current process paradigm . Easy peasy.


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4. okemist on January 4, 2013 11:07 AM writes...

My Daily Dilbert seems to sum it up well.

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5. WindPharmer on January 4, 2013 11:24 AM writes...

Good question! I'd like to know as well. Here's a slideshare link that I've used:

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6. Artemesinin on January 4, 2013 12:09 PM writes...

I guess it depends on who is asking the question.

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7. drug_hunter on January 4, 2013 1:11 PM writes...

I assume the question is from someone teaching a class on drug discovery who is looking for references they can give the students to get them started.

Paul Anderson had a very nice article in the most recent Annual Reports in Medicinal Chemistry. He covered quite a few drugs but also pointed out some of the fundamental philosophies that have driven his approach.

In the same book are also chapters from Peter Bernstein and Ross Johnson that are worth reading.

I also second the idea that in the book "Chronicles of Drug Discovery" there are some great chapters.

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8. tjm on January 4, 2013 1:16 PM writes...

Oops, that link is broken. Sorry. Go here and scroll down.

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9. "Nothermaus on January 4, 2013 1:56 PM writes...

@7 drug_hunter - is that the same Ross Johnson of PFE fame?

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10. TX Raven on January 5, 2013 4:15 AM writes...

What are you guys talking about?

Just calculate cLogP and MW, and you are on your way to curing cancer...

Why do you want to convince people that drug discovery is a complex task and decisions are made in rather ambiguous scenarios?

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11. drug_hunter on January 5, 2013 11:38 AM writes...

@9 Nothermaus - yes, in the article he says he started at Pfizer in 1971, and worked on prostaglandins, cannabinoids, hypoglycemics, opioids, HIV fusion inhibitors, and ENaC sodium channel for CF. Do you know him? I have never met the man.

@10 TX Raven - So should we all conclude that you don't give a damn about teaching students anything of value?

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12. TX Raven on January 5, 2013 12:16 PM writes...

Dear drug_hunter... I thought it was rather obvious I was being sarcastic :-)

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13. drug_hunter on January 5, 2013 8:50 PM writes...

@12 TX Raven - Good to hear. So what article(s) do you recommend for the students to read?

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14. TX Raven on January 6, 2013 5:12 PM writes...

@13 drug_hunter... I'm sorry; I should have used a smiley...

In terms of articles... I remember with great affection and respect a boss who used to start every biweekly 1:1 meeting asking me: "what are you reading these days"... I believe reading is key for medicinal chemists.

Personally, contrary to what seems to be popular these days, I like articles that show how complex and unpredictable things are in medicinal chemistry. I like a lot the book "Real World Drug Discovery", by Robert Rydzewski.

Last week I came across an article by John Lowe III about the changes in drug discovery over the last few decades. It is a bit old (2004), but still written by tremendously respected colleagues. "THE ROLE OF THE MEDICINAL
CHEMIST IN DRUG DISCOVERY — THEN AND NOW, Nat Rev Drug Disc 2004,854. Quote: "This historical perspective could provide insights in to how to improve the current model for drug discovery by helping the medicinal chemist regain the creative role that contributed to past successes."

So true...

Anyway, back to calculating a cLogP :-)

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15. Brandon Findlay on January 8, 2013 2:28 PM writes...

"Drug discovery chemistry: a primer for
the non-specialist"
Drug Discovery Today (2009), volume 14, page 731-44.

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