Pharmaceutical chemistry, does it still exist?

Pharmaceutical chemistry, does it still exist?

PIIARMA(£UTI(,A HELVETIAE ELSEVIER Pharmaceutica Acta Helvetiae 69 (1994)59 Editorial Pharmaceutical chemistry, does it still exist? This very pers...

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Pharmaceutica Acta Helvetiae 69 (1994)59


Pharmaceutical chemistry, does it still exist? This very personal view stems from the unease of the author to become locked up in a field of research, thus imagining all the fears and troubles of medieaval guilds: Doing things outside the definition of your working field is not recommended. You will be not respected, because you cannot be (by definition) an expert in that field. Therefore your work will not be funded, because the guild masters decide upon the relevance of what you are doing. In my field the modern term which describes our research is Medicinal Chemistry. An elegant analysis of the evolution from Pharmaceutical Chemistry to Medicinal Chemistry has been given recently (Testa 1992). The goal of Medicinal Chemistry is to discover and prepare a drug with specific activity. The strategies to achieve this goal are lead generation and lead optimization. If this is true I would prefer to be a pharmaceutical chemist instead of a medicinal chemist. The definition of Pharmaceutical Chemistry comprises all of the fields already mentioned and in addition Pharmaceutical Analysis. The latter is a very important source of knowledge about properties of compounds. D N A in biotechnologically produced drugs has to be traced down to the sub-femtomolar level, occurrence of biologically active artifacts and recombinations during radio sterilization of drugs have to be detected and identified. All of this requires a deep understanding of the compounds reactivity. Thus, Pharmaceutical Analytics can provide us with a huge amount of interesting data for structure activity relationships and I would certainly miss it. A very fast growing research field is the molecular definition of drug delivery. This is where

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Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry broadly overlap. The term Pharmacodynamics is used by both representatives in a different way. However, the goal is the very same: How does the drug molecule interact with its binding site and what can we learn from the understanding of this process to make a better drug. By the increase of the modern powerful "molecular technologies", like x-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, electron and laser microscopy, molecular biology etc., fields of research around the drug molecule begin to merge. One should not forget however, that Chemistry is the eldest "molecular" discipline. Looking at this conglomerate, I am sure Pharmaceutical Sciences would be a nice term, which describes the concept very well. But you probably would never call it Medicinal Sciences. So, why has a Medicinal Chemistry emerged? It emerged from the necessity to point out that chemical research on drug molecules is different from l'art pour l'art synthetic variation of heterocycles, that has been a long tradition in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Insofar I completely agree that one had to nickname it Medicinal. However, if we successfully refocus on drug research... By the way, there is a new field of research, even represented by its own dictionary (Nahler 1994): Pharmaceutical Medicine. t Gerd Folkers, Ziirich Testa, B. (1992) Medicinal Chemistry: A teacher's and worker's perspective, CHIMIA 46, 297-299. Nahler, G. (1994) Dictionaryof Pharmaceutical Medicine. SpringerVerlag, Wien New York.