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Chemistry for Biologists

Getting Sensitive: Diagnostic Sensitivity and Specificity Simplified

What Do We Mean by Diagnostic Sensitivity? In clinical diagnostics, questions about the sensitivity of an assay will inevitably surface. But what does “sensitivity” mean exactly? The lowest quantity of the given analyte that an assay can detect is often called sensitivity – and to be clear, this quantity is the analytical sensitivity or Limit…

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How Strong is Your Binding? A Quick Introduction to Isothermal Titration Calorimetry

What is Isothermal Titration Calorimetry? Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) measures the heat generated (or absorbed) when one solution is titrated into another. Most commonly, a small molecule or peptide is titrated into a protein. If the molecule binds to the protein, heat is given off (or absorbed) with each injection, until the protein is saturated.1…

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ChemDraw: a Versatile Molecule Sketching Tool for (Bio)Chemists

Have you ever wondered how to make professional, easy-to-understand figures of molecules for presentations or publications? While several programs exist for this purpose, ChemDraw is like the Swiss Army knife of chemical sketching programs that most chemists and journals use to prepare figures. Beyond the ability to create chemically accurate and legible figures, ChemDraw can…

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Using ADMET to Move Forward from Drug Discovery to Development

Anyone who is remotely associated with any kind of drug development program knows how challenging the field is. Not only is the process complex and time consuming, but it also requires the concerted effort of experts from various disciplines such as chemistry, biology, microbiology, pharmacology, toxicology, etc. Whenever such collaborations are not possible, you are…

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Benchside Matchmaking—Finding the Right Buffer for Your Experiment

Buffers are often taken for granted, but they can make or break an experiment.  In previous posts, we’ve talked about the wide ranges of buffers available for biological research and the characteristics of a “Good” buffer. Organic buffers are not inert! They can interact with your experimental molecule, or change pH due to changes in…

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Ask a Chemist: How Colorimetric Assays Work

One of my colleagues, a very good molecular biologist, told me that the only time she uses chemistry is when she needs to calculate molarities. I, of course, scoffed at this statement, and tried to remind her of all the chemistry she uses daily. True, I may be a bit biased since I am a…

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