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What’s your favorite molecule?

2 August 2012 2 Comments

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Welcome to a new series on Malvern’s blog site, “Molecules of Note”. Think of this column a little bit like those articles you read in the newspaper supplements of papers such as New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Times of India, China Daily that effuse about great wines, cheeses or other globally revered comestibles. Whether it be through blogs, tweets or good old print media, I don’t think that truly great molecules get enough air-time. Well, all that’s about to change. Read on.

Here’s the first homage to one of my favorite molecules, (3R,5R)-7-[2-(4-fluorophenyl)-3-phenyl-4-(phenylcarbamoyl)-5-propan-2-ylpyrrol-1-yl]-3,5-dihydroxyheptanoic acid, commonly known under its brand name, Lipitor. It is a drug, and a member of the class known as statins, used for lowering blood cholesterol. Here’s why it gets my vote as one of the top molecules out there.

As a drug, it is the best-selling molecule in pharmaceutical history. Sales of Lipitor, since it was approved in 1996, have reportedly exceeded US$125 billion. With tens of millions of patients around the world taking Lipitor, I would wager that we all know someone who takes or has taken this molecule as a therapy for high cholesterol in the blood. This number will only increase as generic versions of this statin become available.

We have a gentleman by the name of Bruce Roth to thank for this molecule; he was the first person to synthesize it in 1985 while working at, what is now, one of Pfizer’s R&D facilities. Roth was named Hero of Chemistry in 2008 by the American Chemical Society for his efforts. Rock music heroes, sports heroes, they’re all well and good, but to be named a chemistry hero would top all of that in my lab note book.

So, put your cheese aside and raise a glass to (3R,5R)-7-[2-(4-fluorophenyl)-3-phenyl-4-(phenylcarbamoyl)-5-propan-2-ylpyrrol-1-yl]-3,5-dihydroxyheptanoic acid or atorvastatin, or simply, Lipitor.

Do you have a favorite molecule?  Do you think this one can be beaten? Let us know.