Category: Chemical Biology

  • The Mirror World

    Now this is a paper that’ll make your head spin. It’s from the Zhu group at Tsinghua University, and the head-spinning will be both because of the subject matter and the amount of work involved. So let’s get chiral – first, a bit of background for readers who don’t think about this stuff all the […]

  • A Fifty-Year-Old Cancer Drug Doesn’t Do What You Think

    5-fluorouracil (5-FU) has been around a long time now (over fifty years), and it’s a standard oncology drug (particularly in colorectal treatment regimes). But try going around and asking people how it works. If you’re talking to a clinician and want to seem up on the lingo, just say “What’s 5-FU’s MOA?” (mechanism of action). […]

  • Chose Your Controls Wisely

    I’ve been meaning to write about this paper (open access) on some problems with chemical probes, and now’s a good time. There was a well-known article a few years ago about “The Promise and Peril of Chemical Probes”, and this is a deliberate follow-up, starting with its title. Even if you don’t give much of […]

  • Med-Chem Should Be Larger Than It Is

    I’m really glad to see this Perspective article in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, not least because it hits on a theme that I emphasize whenever I get a chance to speak to graduate student chemistry audiences. The author, Bart Roman, is pointing out that (1) biologics are relentlessly expanding their role in the landscape […]

  • Tie Me Proteins All Down, Sport

    There are a lot of slick ideas in molecular and chemical biology that depend on immobilizing proteins or small molecules onto solid supports. Consider affinity chromatography: if you can tether a “bait” onto some solid matrix, you can then flow all sorts of mixtures over it (gorp from freshly lysed cells, for example) and let […]

  • Watching mRNA Do Its Thing, In Living Cells

    This is a nice chemical biology paper that hits on a hot topic of the day: the uptake and function of mRNA when administered to cells. You can always look for downstream effects to show that you achieved both those goals, but it would be very useful to get images of this process in real […]

  • Mysteries in Human RNA

    Let’s put this one in the category of “more things that we didn’t know about human biology”. We’ve known for some time now about ribozymes – catalytic enzyme-like structures made out of RNA instead of proteins. But they’ve been studied more in lower organisms overall. We know that the hammerhead ribozymes are widely distributed (and […]

  • Comprehensive Covalent Probe Time

    I really enjoyed this new paper on ChemRxiv, a Munich/Michigan/Berkeley  collaboration on reactive covalent groups and their profile across different proteins. There have been a number of papers addressing this subject before, but this one is the most comprehensive one I’ve ever seen, and it’s a valuable resource. Most of the covalent probes (and nearly […]