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Environment

Binding with deuterium

July 25, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 30

The cover story “The Deuterium Switcheroo” was very interesting (C&EN, July 4, page 32). I would like to note one minor, but not insignificant, error in the sentence that reads, “The hydrogen-deuterium switcheroo doesn’t change any of the drug’s other biological properties, such as its shape, size, or ability to bind its target.”

There is a substantial amount of evidence in the chemical literature to indicate that deuteration of a molecule does affect its noncovalent interactions with other molecules, such as binding to a target. This evidence was reviewed by me in 1999, and the subsequent review article, titled “Deuterium Isotope Effects on Noncovalent Interactions between Molecules” (Chem.-Biol. Interact. 1999, DOI: 10.1016/s0009-2797(98)00097-0), has been cited by more than 100 other authors in chemical journals, so the phenomenon is well-known.

It was my original hope that the phenomenon of isotope effects on noncovalent interactions could be developed for therapeutic benefit (see “Hypothesis: Slowing the Growth of β-Amyloid Fibrils with Deuterated Amino Acids” from the Wade Research Foundation), but most research has focused solely on the kinetic isotope effect described in the C&EN article.

David Wade
Moscow, Idaho

Corrections

July 11, page 30: C&EN’s cover story about OLED displays misquoted Janice DuFour, Universal Display’s vice president of technology commercialization. Speaking about the firm’s phosphorescent materials, she said: “One gram of our emitters may be used to make 3,000 phone displays.”

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