Volume 94 Issue 27 | pp. 32-36
Issue Date: July 4, 2016

Cover Story

Deuterium switcheroo breathes life into old drugs

Drugmakers juggle isotopes in hopes of achieving novelty, stability, and success
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE, Organic SCENE
Keywords: drug development, deuterated drugs, deuterium, SD-809, AVP-786, CTP-656, VX-984, fludalanine, heavy water, Girdler sulfide process, ammonia-hydrogen, CANDU

Heavier than hydrogen by a single neutron, deuterium might not seem to have much chemical heft. But the small matter of that subatomic particle makes a massive difference in the reactivity of hydrogen versus its isotope deuterium.

In particular, deuterium can be far more difficult to pluck from a carbon atom than hydrogen. That property has long intrigued drugmakers: Metabolic enzymes often begin to break down drugs by stripping them of their hydrogen atoms. If . . .

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