Selecting drug discovery case studies for the BucketList

Here starts a set of drug discovery ‘case studies’; selected papers that describes the research that led to an approved drug to market. If we just selected these papers on the basis of being an approved drug, we could probably generate another bucket list. We could also have chosen papers that are excellent examples of the current standard of scientific write ups. However, the most useful papers are those where the research has solved a particular problem, and this is well described, with clear tables of data. We think these papers have the most educational benefit, and serve as a good references. However there is a bias towards some of the more recent ‘drugs to market’, simple because of the standard of the write up, particular those in J.Med.Chem. Lastly, if we came across a paper that has been made open access by the authors, we selected that over others.

We should note some classics from history, as honourable mentions.

Let us mention the first beta-blocker: Propranolol which led to a Nobel prize. Black JW, Crowther AF, Shanks RG, Smith LH, Dornhorst AC (May 1964). “A New Adrenergic”.

Lancet. 1 (7342): 1080–1.

And Cimetidine, considered by many as the ‘first rationally designed’ drug.

Characterization And Development Of Cimetidine As A Histamine Hz-Receptor Antagonist. Gastroenterology 74:339-347, 1978

And the Captoprl story. Science, 1977, 196, 441-444.

On the subject of writing a quality med chem paper – please read:

Writing Your Next Medicinal Chemistry Article: Journal Bibliometrics and Guiding Principles for Industrial Authors

J. Med. Chem. 2020, 63, 14336−14356


Case Study : Celecoxib

Celecoxib SAR table

The inhibition of Cyclooxygenase-2 requires a molecule with a five membered ring substituted with a 1,2-diphenyl groups. The series discovered Pfizer was unusually stable, having an un-expectably long half-life in rodent. The solution was to introduce a metabolically labile group (4-Methyl – compound 1i – Table 1). This generally is the reverse of what is required in typical drug hunting projects, with the exception of inhaled drugs a short half-life is often desired. The approach to solving the problems, and late stage in-vivo profiling is well described.

Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of the 1,5-Diarylpyrazole Class of Cyclooxygenase-2 Inhibitors:  Identification of 4-[5-(4-Methylphenyl)-3- (trifluoromethyl)-1H-pyrazol-1-yl]benzenesulfonamide (SC-58635, Celecoxib)

J.Med. Chem. 1997, 40, 9, 1347–1365

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