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Book Review The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design and Drug Action. By R. B. Silverman

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the author has succeeded in providing an they are not essential for understanding velopment process as basically a problem
account of all the most important biosen- biosensors. The applications described in mechanistic organic chemistry. In this
sor principles and their present and poten- nearly all belong to the medical field; this endeavor, Dr. Silverman has been sucemphasis is carried to such lengths that, cessful and then some. A range of topics is
tial applications.
However, on looking through the book for example, in relation to oxyhemoglobin covered and explored in a reasonable level
in more detail one discovers that many of and oximetry, the author describes meth- of detail in a text of 422 pages. Specifically,
the expectations are not fulfilled. Both the ods that may well be important for blood there are chapters on the general principles
structure of the book and its detailed con- investigations, but have not so far proved of receptors and drug-receptor complexes,
tents invite criticism. It consists of ten useful in biosensor technology. On the enzymes and enzyme inhibition, and DNA
chapters, each of which is divided into sec- other hand, some important aspects of and drug-DNA interactions. The refertions varying in number from seven to biosensors are not covered. Topics that ences are comprehensive enough for the
thirteen. These are further divided into as are only treated very briefly or omitted book to serve to jumpstart a literature
many as nineteen subsections. Some of altogether include the use of mediators as search in the areas that are included, althese consist of fewer than ten lines of artificial electron acceptors, successfulex- though the cited literature cuts off in 1989.
text, while in other cases the first such sub- periments on direct electron transfer from Interesting historical background inforsection is not followed by a second one. enzymes to electrodes, fabrication tech- mation is included in many chapters, which
This impression of a not always appropri- niques not based on thin film technology, enhances the reader’s appreciation of why
ate arrangement of the material is further and optical methods such as interferome- the drug discovery process evolved the way
reinforced on noting that, for example, try.
it did in certain areas. The author has also
there are three sections on glucose sensors
Each chapter ends with a list of refer- included chapters which give a reasonable
(Sections 4.3, 4.4, and 4.5) which all em- ences, including some that are very recent, overview of how a typical prototype comploy the same principle but are applied to although regrettably the overwhelming pound is discovered, and of concepts such
different problems. These are followed by emphasis is on work in the USA. Few cita- as bioisosterism and QSAR as they relate
sections on sensors for urea (Sect. 4.6) and tions of work by Japanese or European to structure optimization. However, there
for alcohols (Sect. 4.7), on multienzyme groups are included, even for groups that is sufficient mathematics in the discussion
sensors (Sect. 4.9), and on carbon elec- have developed sensors for medical appli- of physicochemical parameters to slake the
trodes for enzymes (Sect. 4.10), despite cations. Moreover, there are no references typical medicinal chemist’s thirst for such.
the fact that the exclusion of these sensors to any commercial enzyme analyzers or The chapter on drug metabolism may perfrom earlier sections was not mentioned, sensors other than those made by Yellow haps overemphasize the importance of this
area relative to absorption, tissue distriand without referring to the existence of Springs Instruments.
’ To summarize, the high expectations
bution, and excretion phenomena as they
glucose and alcohol sensors based on carbon electrodes. Similar inconsistencies can raised by the book’s title fail to material- relate to a medicinal chemist’s concerns
be found in other chapters. A clearer way ize. An indication in the title that the sub- about a compound‘s pharmacokinetic and
of arranging the subject matter, and its in- ject matter is restricted to medical applica- pharmacodynamic behavior. However, in
clusion in full in the list of contents, would tions and electrochemical methods would keeping with the book’s purpose, metahave helped the reader considerably.
have given a better idea of the author’s bolism is better understood and more easiFurthermore, of the eight chapters that research interests, and would have served ly explained in terms of the principles of
describe the current state of progress in these topics more effectively, as they could organic chemistry than these other (equally
biosensor developments, four are con- then have been given the more detailed important) aspects of pharmaceutical recerned exclusively with electrochemical treatment promised by the title.
search and development. The discussion
Ursula Bilitewski of prodrugs is an especially handy referprinciples and enzyme electrodes. Since
immunosensors and sensors using whole
Bereich Enzymtechnologie/ ence for browsing.
cells also employ electrochemical methNaturstoffchemie
“The Organic Chemistry of Drug DeGesellschaft fur Biotechnologische sign and Drug Action” is very well written,
ods, this means that these topics occupy
more than half the book. Consequently
Forschung mbH nicely indexed, and generally free of typoBraunschweig (FRG) graphical errors. Naturally, since it was
the author fails to do justice to other techniques, in particular to the optical methconceived as a text for an introductory
ods that are now so important in imcourse in medicinal chemistry, there are
numerous subjects which are either treated
munosensors. Thus the main emphasis in
very lightly or not at all. For the experithe book is on measurements using electrochemical principles. The historical sur- The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design enced medicinal chemist, this book will
vey in the introduction begins with the de- and Drug Action. By R. B. Silverman. never replace texts such as Goodman and
velopment of the acid-base theory, and Academic Press, New York, 1992. Gilman’s “The Pharmacological Basis of
Therapeutics” as a resource. Nevertheless,
mentions various fundamental develop- XIV, 422 pp., hardcover $55.00.I believe that this book is so readable that
ments in electrochemistry, whereas other ISBN 0-12-643 730-0
it will prove to be a welcome addition to
detection methods are ignored. The chapIt was the author’s expressed intent in the library of any medicinal chemist, reters that follow contain explanations of
some of the theoretical fundamentals; writing this book to create a text through gardless of experience.
sometimes these are so brief that non-elec- which “a student or a scientist interested
James B. Doherty
trochemists will have difficulty in under- in entering the field of medicinal chemMerck & Co., Inc.
standing them in detail, and in any case istry” would learn to look at the drug deRahway NJ (USA)
mbH, 0-69451 Weinheim. 1994
0570-0833/94/0707-0792$10.00+ ,2510
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 1994, 33, No. 7
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chemistry, drug, design, book, silverman, organiz, action, review
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