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Virginia Tech Computational Chemist Works To Prevent Undesirable Side Effects In Synthetic Drugs -- Crawford Receives Cottrell Scholar Award
Many molecules, especially biological molecules, have a property called handedness, or chirality, whose impact on such things as synthetic drugs has been known for many years. When synthetic drugs are made to mimic natural products, they must have the same "handedness" as the molecule of the original plant or animal to have the same beneficial effect. If the synthetic drug has the opposite handedness, it can have undesirable side effects. The drug Thalidomide, for example, wreaked havoc because, as a synthetic drug, it unexpectedly took on both chiral properties, causing defects in unborn children.