Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Less Toxic Chemicals?

I really have to be skeptical of this report - that chemists, with a little bit of training, should be able to design less toxic chemicals.

Let's modify that statement a little bit to see if we can get any insight. How about this - that with a little bit of training, chemists should be able to design better drugs. (This isn't much of a stretch since we all know Paracelsus's decree - it's the dose that makes the poison.)

Chemists have had rule of thumb for drugs (Lipinski's Rule of 5 is a terrific example) and yet numerous drugs defy those rules and even with that guidance, new drug introductions are falling at a horrifying rate. QSAR was once held out as a great hope but has failed to deliver as widely as expected. (If only God had left the design manual around for humans, we would be in much better shape in pharmaceutical design!) If you doubt any of this, just start rolling around in Derek Lowe's blog to see the challenges facing drug designers.

Toxicology and pharmaceuticals both are at the interface between chemistry and biology. Given the extreme difficulty in designing drugs, I can't believe that designing "low toxicity" chemicals will be any less challenging.


Eric F. Brown said...

This sounds to me like one of the proposals that sounds reasonable to the general public but is humorous to those with a smidgen of scientific knowledge.

John said...

I would agree with your comment entirely, except that the proposal was tossed out their by chemists at Yale.

laundry chemicals said...

Some nice ideas in here, though I doubt, that modern scientists would agree with you here! :)