More Medicinal Chemistry At The #Chemcarnival

Last month, I wrote a post on amide formation, that humble but useful tool in the medicinal chemistry arsenal, for CENtral Science’s “Your Favorite Reaction” blog carnival. Today, CENtral Science’s own pharmacologist-in-residence David Kroll has compiled a must-read guide to all the entries in the carnival, and I was pleased to see a few more entries that might pique medicinal chemists’ interest. I was especially psyched to see entries from bloggers with whose writing I wasn’t familiar.

Make sure to read David’s fantastic overview to learn about each post in the carnival. But I’ve made note of a few favorites here at The Haystack:

Plenty of drugs don’t behave inside the human body the way drugmakers would like. But chemists have a few tricks up their sleeves to remedy that problem. For drugs that don’t stick around in the bloodstream long enough to work properly, or have other metabolic issues, a common tactic is to make a prodrug– a masked version of an active pharmaceutical ingredient. Once a person takes a pill containing a prodrug, the body’s own biochemical machinery breaks the prodrug down to the active ingredient. One of the most common chemical features of a prodrug is an ester group, a group that should be familiar to college students who’ve taken organic chemistry. I enjoyed chemistry professor and science writer Rebecca Guenard’s post at Atomic-o-Licious, The Smell of It, about prepping the undergrad laboratory exercise in ester formation. Bonus points for reminding me of a vintage Tenderbutton post about the barnyard aroma of certain carboxylic acids. (User: tender P:button).

Medicinal chemistry isn’t just about putting potential drugs together. It’s also about understanding the biology behind disease so that chemists can design better drugs in the future. Shannon Morey’s post at Chembites about the Azide Alkyne Huisgen Cycloaddition evokes that aspect of drug discovery quite well. This most famous reaction with the alias “click chemistry” has been used to probe countless biochemical processes. Most notably, Carolyn Bertozzi’s group at UC Berkeley has used it to learn more about sugars on cell surfaces and the many interactions where they participate. As Morey points out, Christopher Walsh’s Harvard Medical School team has even used this cycloaddition in the search for new antibiotic peptides.

Finally, because I don’t trust a chemist who can’t cook, I direct your attention to Matt Hartings’s elegant post at Sciencegeist on the Maillard Reaction, the chemistry behind roasting and toasting all kinds of culinary delights.

Thanks to all who participated in the carnival. Watch for selected posts in an upcoming issue of Chemical & Engineering News!

Author: Carmen Drahl

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