Drug discovery and development

Drug discovery and development

Mukund Chorghade (ed) 

Hoboken, US: Wiley-Interscience 2007 | 904pp | ?100.00 (two volumes) (HB) ISBN 9780471398462

Reviewed by Derek Lowe 

Drug discovery and development  is the latest attempt to summarise this difficult subject between hard covers. While there is much worthwhile information here, these volumes also illustrate why success in this publishing niche comes hard; success in its eponymous field comes even harder. Many important parts of drug research remain stubbornly empirical, and very few general principles escape violation in one successful project or another. 

The first volume ( Drug Discovery  , 2006) includes some good chapters, particularly the longest contribution by Paul Ehrhardt on the future of medicinal chemistry. Others range from useful short reviews and single-drug histories, down to chapters with superficial or dated treatments of their subjects. Some chapter topics are rather well out of the mainstream. 

The shorter volume two ( Drug Development  , 2008) is less coherent. Some chapters (including one on compound library design) would have been more suitable for volume one. Others, puzzlingly, are reviews of specific transformations of limited general interest. There are good short treatments of some topics, but the volume devolves into an odd mixture that does not meet the claims of its jacket copy (’an indispensable working resource for the industrial chemist’). 

Both volumes suffer from the unevenness of the multiple-author format. 

Repetition is also a problem, with the ACE inhibitors (for example) getting at least two separate treatments - and anyway, it may be time to give these a rest as examples of current drug discovery, a topic that remains elusive.