C Robin Ganellin, Roy Jefferis and Stanley Roberts (eds)
2013 | 466pp | £59.99
Reviewed by Graham Wynne
Drug discovery is not just about small molecules. Biopharmaceutical drugs (proteins, antibodies etc) represent an increasing proportion of newly approved medicines, and there is no sign of that trend slackening. However, while the majority of medicinal chemists dealing with small molecules would be able to name examples, and have some general awareness of biological drugs, that is likely to be the extent of their knowledge.
This book, which essentially forms a companion set with the related 1992 text by the same team, aims to address this situation. The editors have assembled a range of case studies drawn from leading institutes and authors in the field. These attempt to demystify the evolution and development of biopharmaceutical drugs, through comparisons with recent developments in, and perspectives from, the small molecule arena.
Groundwork is provided by introductory chapters that cover the basic theories pertinent to each class of agent. Pleasingly, both mainstream therapeutic areas, including oncology and diabetes, and orphan diseases such as lysosomal storage disorders are represented.
There are some excellent and very readable case studies, and the two chapters that provide a more basic introduction to this subject area are also noteworthy. Although there is some duplication here, a wealth of valuable and easy assimilated information is presented that quickly gives the reader a grasp of the different challenges facing biopharmaceutical drugs and their developers.
There are a few errors, and it was surprising to find a complete lack of chemical structures in the chapter comparing small molecule and biopharmaceutical treatments for diabetes. Similarly, I would question the order of the text; the case studies are interrupted by a review of the biopharmaceutical industry, which, although it contains useful information, feels like it should appear nearer the start of the book.
This text will be of particular interest both to the medicinal chemist who is looking to increase their knowledge beyond the small molecules area, and those with experience in the biologics field.