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Chemical Biology. A Practical Course. Edited by Herbert Waldmann and Petra Janning

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Concepts, Methods, and Tools for
Drug Discovery.
Edited by Jrgen
Bajorath. Humana
Press, Totowa
2004. 524 pp.,
$ 125.00.—ISBN
Chemoinformatics (cheminformatics)
has become established as an area of
research in its own right. It draws on
many sources, especially those in the
existing traditions of chemical data
banks and the extraction of data on
properties of chemical substances, the
modeling of quantitative structure–
activity relationships (QSAR), and the
development of algorithms for planning
syntheses or for molecular design. Those
aspects are included in the book
reviewed here, in which Jrgen Bajorath
has collected together a number of
essays with drug discovery as their
common theme. The editor is himself a
well-known expert in the field of chemoinformatics, and in this multi-author
work he has tried to show the many
facets of this area of research.
The work of a little over 500 pages
consists of 19 chapters that have been
written by 24 authors drawn from the
pharmaceutical industry and from academia, including some very well-known
names. The chapters cover a wide variety of topics, and range from textbookstyle introductions dealing with different aspects of chemical similarity
searches, QSAR modeling, and methods
of molecular diversity analysis, to practiAngew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2005, 44, 511 – 512
cal examples of the application of different chemical information concepts in
pharmaceutical chemistry, the design of
combinatorial molecule libraries, and
methods for predicting pharmacologically relevant molecular properties.
There is a similarly wide variation in
the construction and style of the individual chapters. As well as broad-ranging
review articles, there are others that
read more like an original publication
on some special aspect, such as theoretical calculations of descriptors. Some
authors have devoted much care to analyzing and comparing different methods,
and in some cases have added an appendix explaining the mathematics in more
detail. Such discussions will certainly
be useful for many readers, not only
for practical users of chemoinformatics.
Unfortunately, however, there are also
a few chapters that are very brief and
superficial. This unevenness is regrettable, because every one of the wellchosen topics in the book deserved to
be treated with a quality and depth
equal to that of the best. There is also
a certain amount of inconsistency in
how up-to-date the chapters are,
although none is really bad in that
My verdict: the book gives a varied
and wide-ranging picture of the field of
chemoinformatics. It does not reflect
the latest state of the art on every
aspect, but it must be admitted that it
would be difficult to achieve that in
such a large multi-author work on a subject that is developing so rapidly. It gives
a good description of chemoinformatics
from a practical standpoint, and will
provide the reader with many creative
The style and layout of the book is
consistent with other volumes in the
series Methods in Molecular Biology
(series editor: John M. Walker). The figures are in black and white throughout,
but some of them would have benefited
from the use of color to make them
more easily understandable. Some of
them suffer from poor resolution. In particular, the quality of the molecular
structural formulas or drawings varies
from chapter to chapter, as also does
the printing of mathematical formulas.
This interferes slightly with the enjoyment of reading the book, but certainly
cannot detract from the predominantly
high quality of the articles. Unfortunately, however, one aspect of the
book must be criticized: the contents
list and the subject index are both unsatisfactory. Moreover, the page numbers
given in the index are wrong in a few
cases. That is annoying, because in
such a large book with a certain
amount of overlapping between individual chapters, proper documentation of
the contents is necessary for finding
ones way around the work and comparing chapters. Experts will easily overcome such difficulties, but outsiders
will find these aspects unhelpful.
Despite those criticisms, the book
held my attention from the first page,
and I recommend it for everyone working in the fields of chemo- or bioinformatics. It is a valuable addition and
extension to the few existing textbooks
on chemoinformatics, although it does
not itself claim to be a textbook. The
reader will discover much interesting
information in this book!
Gisbert Schneider
Institut fr Organische Chemie und
Chemische Biologie
Universitt Frankfurt am Main (Germany)
Chemical Biology
A Practical Course.
Edited by Herbert
Waldmann and
Petra Janning.
Weinheim, 2004.
279 pp., hardcover
E 34.90.—ISBN
This book is concerned with the application of chemical methods to the analysis
of biological processes. Some typical
examples of the many different topics
that it includes are: the synthesis and
hybridization of deoxyoligonucleotides,
of peptide nucleic acids, and of a
DNA–streptavidin conjugate, the solidphase synthesis of a peptide hormone
2005 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
followed by an investigation of its effect
on the calcium-ion content of a cultivated cell strain, and the computeraided design of protein ligands. Other
chapters are concerned with topics
such as the synthesis and study of lipidated peptides, the principles of combinatorial and solid-phase syntheses, and
the mass-spectrometric analysis of proteomes (applied to yeast as an example).
The introductory chapter gives the
reader an overview of the field of
“chemical biology” and an initial
impression of what it is about through
several case studies. That is followed
by 12 chapters by different authors,
which discuss a variety of problems in
chemical biology, and can be read independently of each other. These chapters
all have a common pattern: in each case,
a short introduction is followed by a
summary of the learning objectives,
then a detailed and easily understandable explanation of the theoretical fundamentals of the topic. The last part of the
chapter consists of detailed instructions
for performing the experiment. Through
this form of presentation the reader can
see how the problem that is explained in
the theoretical part is tackled in practice, and in that way obtains a deeper
insight into the subject. This structure
fulfills the aim implied in the second
part of the books title, as it focuses the
readers attention on the descriptions
of basic working techniques in chemical
The laboratory instructions occupy
about a third of the book. This part of
the book is worth reading by everybody,
even by those who are not actually interested in performing the experiments.
The literature references given in each
chapter allow the interested reader to
pursue the topics in more depth. The
appendix contains a comprehensive keyword index and information about necessary safety precautions to be observed
with the chemicals and reagents used in
the experiments.
In accordance with its aims as an
introductory work that concentrates on
basics, the book presents theory and
methods that are well-established, but
which nevertheless also reflect the current state of the art. The chapters are
written in a style that makes for easy
The book is intended for readers
who wish to get an overview, illustrated
by well-chosen examples, of the use of
organic chemistry techniques in bio-
2005 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
chemistry. Its strength lies in the fact
that it provides the reader with practical
details about working methods and
about how to carry out the experiments
described, while also covering current
developments in the field by describing
concrete examples. It must be borne in
mind that many parts of the book
assume that the reader has a basic
knowledge of organic chemistry and
biochemistry. Such assumptions are
unavoidable in an interdisciplinary project of this kind, and they are not a
cause for criticism. The book can certainly be read with advantage by scientists with relevant interdisciplinary
interests, not only by advanced students
and postgraduates concerned with the
area of chemical biology, but also by students majoring in chemistry or biochemistry.
Henning Breyhan, Thomas Kolter
Kekul-Institut fr Organische Chemie
und Biochemie
Universitt Bonn (Germany)
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200385246
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2005, 44, 511 – 512
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course, practical, janning, chemical, petra, edited, biologya, herbert, waldmann
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