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Drugs, Naturally

Natural products and their structures are often used as leads in drug discoveries. But should they be? In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe reviews a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society by the Broad Institute's Stuart Schreiber and Paul Clemons, that says natural products tend to target high-gene interaction targets for the treatment of disease, ignoring the more specific targets, Lowe says. "That actually seems reasonable — most natural products are produced by organisms as essentially chemical warfare, and the harder they can hit, the better," he adds. The paper concludes that other sources of small molecules need to be found outside of natural products. While that seems like a sound argument, however, Lowe doesn't agree with the implications of it. "Schreiber has long been a proponent of 'diversity-oriented synthesis' (DOS), and would seem to be making a case for it here without ever mentioning it by name," he says. DOS, he continues, is about making large collections of molecules to cover as much "chemical space" as possible. "My worries are that the space it covers doesn't necessarily overlap very well with the space occupied by potential drugs, and that chemical space is too humongously roomy in any event to be attacked very well by brute force," Lowe says.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge is weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.