About this Author
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

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Crowdfunding Research | Main | GSK's Published Kinase Inhibitor Set »

May 14, 2013

A Specific Crowdfunding Example

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

I mentioned Microryza in that last post. Here's Prof. Michael Pirrung, at UC Riverside, with an appeal there to fund the resynthesis of a compound for NCI testing against renal cell carcinoma. It will provide an experienced post-doc's labor for a month to prepare an interesting natural-product-derived proteasome inhibitor that the NCI would like to take to their next stage of evaluation. Have a look - you might be looking at the future of academic research funding, or at least a real part of it.

Comments (14) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Cancer | General Scientific News


1. Andre on May 14, 2013 9:45 AM writes...

Uh, let's hope this isn't how the future of funding looks. Is this any better (or different) than the republican's strategy of shouting "Can you believe we're funding squirrel sex research?" or similar? Or Canada's new research approach of only funding research with clear public benefits?

Permalink to Comment

2. Anonymous on May 14, 2013 12:13 PM writes...

12 known steps (that you have done before) = 1 month work?
also st. materials are only $250 bucks

Permalink to Comment

3. SP on May 14, 2013 12:47 PM writes...

Also a lot of crap gets through to the BEC at the NCI. They're pretty much shooting in the dark- something shows selectivity in a cell line panel, they shoot it into mice, forget about PK or ADME and hope it works.
The other problem is, having had some of my compounds go the same route, the 75mg is just for acute tox, it's not even for the first efficacy study they do in mice (hollow fiber panel vs. IP dosing, followed by xenograft if that works.) That requires 500mg. So is he going to be back asking for $30k for the next step in six months?

Permalink to Comment

4. paperclip on May 14, 2013 12:57 PM writes...

Considering that Murphy's Law reigns supreme in a lab, I'd say that one month is a tight deadline.

Permalink to Comment

5. David Young, MD on May 14, 2013 1:15 PM writes...

Interesting compound, no? 12 member ring and all that.... at least the natural compound. Does that make it specially hard to synthesize?

Permalink to Comment

6. newnickname on May 14, 2013 6:04 PM writes...

They DO have prelim data from the NCI. I saw it displayed at the 19 second point. Some of the numbers look a little fuzzy to me.

Permalink to Comment

7. CHM on May 14, 2013 7:23 PM writes...

Why don't they provide a structure? I haven't found it on "The Google".

Permalink to Comment

8. Jan on May 15, 2013 12:24 AM writes...

Having to raise funds that way is pretty degrading. How bad are things when a PI doesn't have the means to repeat a well-established 12 step synthesis

Permalink to Comment

9. alig on May 15, 2013 6:46 AM writes...

Isn't this false advertising? Support the synthesis of a kidney cancer DRUG. Should say: Support the synthesis of a compound that kills cultured cells in a lab.

Permalink to Comment

10. Anonymous on May 15, 2013 9:53 AM writes...

Welcome to the brave new world of funding. How would you convince lay people a compound is worth synthesizing without calling it a drug. Overall there will be enormous pressure to oversell things in order to draw attention.

Permalink to Comment

11. bboooooya on May 15, 2013 10:12 AM writes...

"The synthesis will certainly work, as it is already proven; it requires 12 steps from chemicals we can purchase, which is reasonable to achieve in the month requested. We have no doubt about success in the preparation of this quantity of drug"

He may well be right, but I'm not sure I'd want to stir the potential ire of the Lad Gods in such a manner.

Permalink to Comment

12. BTDT on May 16, 2013 9:38 AM writes...

It is beyond me how a "Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & UC Presidential Chair" does not have enough money to support one PD for one month.

Permalink to Comment

13. Joe Q. on May 16, 2013 11:57 AM writes...

@1: The Canadian decision you're referring to applies to the Canadian national lab system, not the granting agencies.

Permalink to Comment

14. Michael Pirrung on May 17, 2013 8:12 PM writes...

I appreciate first of all the spirit of adventure that Derek showed by posting my project. I also want to address those comments that I can.

I don't have independent knowledge of the NCI vetting process, but my collaborator Bachmann is very experienced and knowledgeable, and he feels pretty comfortable. Of course this is not a *drug* yet, but for communicating to a lay public that we are trying to ply for donations, I thought it a reasonable term. Perhaps there will be no lay audience for this, however - it may all be insiders.

We understand that the 75 mg NCI wants is sufficient for both hollow fiber testing and mouse xenografts. We were initially told that 25 mg was what was needed for the xenograft work and made that amount. Then, when the actual request arrived, it was for 75, and they won't even start the first without sufficient material to do it all. That's how we got here.

Our NCI data is now posted on a lab update on the Microryza site. Also, our whole synthesis (not just the structure of the target).

Our budget is based on a balance of realities for what we could raise in this way under these time constraints, plus our real costs.

As to whether this is degrading, and how some don't understand how I just don't have this money, well, I can't really disagree with either comment. Certainly, doing this requires one to swallow one's pride. The alternative, of letting a project just die that we have been working on since 2008, is even less appealing.

Permalink to Comment


Remember Me?


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry