Sunday, January 20, 2013

Reading assignments, vol. 7

No weekly link roundup last week due to the #GradMentalHealth discussion, but they resume below. Some pretty interesting stuff!

Perception of science

Science writing

Research highlights

  • From Quintus at Chemistry-Blog comes an account of a synthetic analogue of the ribosome. The authors (see publication in Science) used the technique to produce milligram quantities of a peptide! This was also covered in C&EN and by See Arr Oh.
  • Derek Lowe gives a thoughtful perspective on an article summarizing the state of the field of "virtual screening". Worth a read for anyone interested in med-chem.
  • I'm not usually a fan of reading about or listening to total syntheses, but B.R.S.M. gives a pleasant account of Shair's total synthesis of (+)-hyperforin.
  • Bacterial toxins are interesting things! Check out this write-up on a PLoS Pathogens paper on toxins produced by C. difficile (nasty secondary infection common to those taking heavy loads of antibiotics). Warning to the it's-not-interesting-unless-I-can-column-it-and-solve-the-NMR-spectrum folks: the toxins in question (TcdA and TcdB) are enzymes and not small molecules. 
  • Some intriguing research relating to rapid diagnostic of bacterial infections has been highlighted at Scientific American. The authors used secondary electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (SESI-MIS) to analyze breath samples for volatile organic compounds; they could correlate MS profiles to specific infections. It's an interesting idea; given the ability of bacteria to change their metabolism quite flexibly, I'd like to see how many false positives/negatives show up in actual trials.