Thursday, July 16, 2015

First Paper Explained

Matt got his first paper published!!!!

While this may not be the most ground-breaking thing for Chemistry, it is for our family. Matt publishing this paper means 1) He got one project to work so now that shows that he is at least kind of competent and 2) he has a decent shot at getting a job. I'm going to let him explain what his paper is and hopefully you'll kind of understand what he has been working on for the last year.

Matt's explanation in laymen's terms:  Fluorine is a special member of the periodic table because it is the element that is most electronegative; in other words, it has a very strong attachment to its electrons. This is very important when designing pharmaceutical drugs. Usually, the human body degrades drugs by oxidizing them, a fancy term for "stealing all of their electrons" which causes the drug to fall apart and stop working. If you add fluorine to a drug, it makes it more resistant to having its electrons stolen, and this allows it to last longer and be more effective at treating disease.

Here are a few examples of fluorinated drugs (the fluorine is represented with the letter 'F'). The one on the left is an antibiotic where the fluorine increases its ability to kill bacteria, and the one on the right is used to treat high cholesterol. In both cases, the addition of the fluorine causes the drug to be much more effective at a lower dose.

So what's the problem? Well it turns out its not easy to put fluorine in molecules. One popular way of doing this is to take an oxygen (an 'O' atom) and convert directly into a fluorine. However, so far, the methods for doing this are either really expensive or they can result in big explosions. In short, the paper I just published describes a new way to add fluorine without the explosions or high cost. Hopefully, this will allow pharmaceutical companies to make cheaper drugs safely.

While this all may sound important, discoveries like this are made daily in the scientific community, and it is difficult to judge at the onset how important a discovery may prove to be.

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