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Posts Tagged "drug discovery"

The Curious Wavefunction

Physics envy: The last emotion you ever want to feel

BICEP2 Twilight

This is a guest post by my friend Pinkesh Patel, a data scientist at Facebook. Pinkesh has a PhD in physics from Caltech during which he worked on LIGO, the gravitational wave detector. He then did research in computational biology at Stanford after which he moved to Facebook. Pinkesh is thus ideally poised to think [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Why the new NIH guidelines for psychiatric drug testing worry me

Chlorpromazine revolutionized the treatment of psychiatric disorders in the 50s. Since then there has been no comparable revolution (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

Psychiatric drugs have always been a black box. The complexity of the brain has meant that most successful drugs for treating disorders like depression, psychosis and bipolar disorder were discovered by accident and trial and error rather than rational design. There have also been few truly novel classes of these drugs discovered since the 70s [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Why drug discovery is hard – Part 4: Taking the fight to the “enemy”.

A cartoon illustration of cytochrome P450, the body's chief metabolizing enzyme. The ball at the center is the critical iron atom that makes its function possible (Image: C&EN)

This is part 4 of a series of posts delving into the fundamental scientific challenges in drug discovery. Here are the other parts: 1, 2, 3. After a short digression into the fundamental laws of physics and the role of falsification in science, we now return to our series of posts on the complexities of drug [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Why drug discovery is hard – Part 3: Vacuum cleaners that make Sir James Dyson weep

P-glycoprotein (PgP): A combination of vacuum cleaner and high-powered pump that is designed to eject drug molecules out of the cell( Image: Wikipedia Commons)

This is part 3 of a series of posts delving into the fundamental scientific challenges in drug discovery. Here are the other parts: 1, 2. Any number of thrillers or action movies should convince us that the first and most important stratagem in defeating an enemy is getting inside his fortress or camp. Once you [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Why drug discovery is hard – Part 2: Easter Island, Pit Vipers; Where do drugs come from?

The bark of the Pacific Yew tree which yields taxol, one of the world's bestselling anticancer drugs (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

This is part 3 of a series of posts delving into the fundamental scientific challenges in drug discovery. Here are the other parts: 1, 3. Drugs from the forest. Drugs from the sea. Drugs from every conceivable natural source ranging from fungi to frogs; that’s much of the history of drug discovery. In the first part of [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Why drugs are expensive: It’s the science, stupid.

A cartoon representation of part of the protein PCSK9, a significant new target for reducing choelesterol that until now has thwarted efforts to drug it (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

This is part 1 of a series of posts delving into the fundamental scientific challenges in drug discovery. Here are the other parts: 2 Often you will hear people talking about why drugs are expensive: it’s the greedy pharmaceutical companies, the patent system, the government, capitalism itself. All these factors contribute to increasing the price [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Why it’s hard to explain drug discovery to physicists

I minored in physics in college, and ever since then I have had a lively interest in the subject and its history. Although initially trained as an organic chemist, part of the reason I decided to study computational and theoretical chemistry is because of their connections to physics by way of quantum chemistry, electrostatics and [...]

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