Molecule of the Day

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Sulfur usually stinks. Previously, I’ve covered ammonium thioglycolate, mercaptoethanol, and dithiothreitol, all of which are used to break up S-S bonds in biomolecules. The S-H group is what does the job here, and where this functional group is found, stink is usually nearby. The above thiols all have some degree of stink.

There was a nice interview on the Daily Show with former NIH director and Nobel laureate Harold Varmus. Good on Jon Stewart for having him, he got to make the kind of points you wouldn’t usually on a book tour. He touches on some interesting points regarding just how science funding works in practice in…

Awhile back, I discussed dicyclohexylcarbodiimide: a condensing agent that helps turn biological monomers (like amino acids) into polymers (like proteins). People use it a lot on peptide synthesizers for this purpose, where the peptides are made in organic solvents. A related compound, EDAC, works in water:

Propranolol (Adrenalin armor)

I just read the excellent Not Rocket Science for the first time. He has a nice writeup of the propranolol story that is making the rounds. Some researchers conditioned some subjects to get stressed when they saw a picture of a spider by shocking them while viewing spider pictures. Then, everyone got more spider pictures…

Methyl anthanilate occurs naturally in grapes, along with a suite of other aroma compounds, which combine to give that complex, earthy, bright grape juice aroma.

Acetonitrile is essential to a lot of chemical analysis – HPLC, or high-performance liquid chromatography, is a workhorse technique for just about anyone who wants to purify on a smallish scale, or see how pure their stuff is. This means pharmaceuticals, prepared foods, agribusiness, fine chemicals, and on and on. We use lots of acetonitrile.

Levamisole is one of those drugs that was discovered quite awhile ago, when we had even less idea what target things were hitting. It’s not used often in people these days. What’s interesting about it is that it is occasionally found as an adulterant in cocaine (PDF) – and it popped up again recently.

The Royal Society of Chemistry is offering a million pounds to anyone who can bring them 100% chemical-free material.

Loratadine (No more stuffy head)

Loratadine is an antihistamine used for treatment of allergies. Its main distinguishing characteristic is that it is nonsedating, because the molecule minimally penetrates the barrier separating the brain from the bloodstream.

Metformin is about as simple as a drug gets: