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Where do the drugs go?

Drug delivery inside the body is a complicated process. Compounds travel through a maze of aqueous solutions, lipid membranes, and barriers between the blood and tissues like the brain. Research reported in the American Institute of Physics publication the Journal of Chemical Physics presents a theoretical model that accurately predicts the hydration free energy (HFE) of a wide variety of organic compounds.

"HFE determines solubility and allows accurate prediction of a compound's path in a complex environment," says author Maxim Fedorov of the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences. "For example, in passive transport, you want to know that the compound will cross a lipid layer into the aqueous environment inside a cell rather than moving back into the surrounding aqueous environment."

Unfortunately, HFE is not measured easily or quickly, so it is available for only about a thousand of the 20 million known organic compounds. Standard prediction methods are inaccurate. The new model used a database of about 50 known HFE values to build a theoretical model using computational hydration thermodynamics and chemo-informatic techniques. "Our predictions are accurate and very cheap computationally, requiring only 10 to 20 seconds on a PC," says Fedorov.

The ultimate goal is to predict the movement of a compound in a complex environment and to screen large databases of candidate compounds for desirable characteristics. In addition to the pharmaceutical applications, Fedorov sees potential application in modeling the environmental flow of agricultural chemicals or industrial pollutants.

The article, "Accurate calculations of the Hydration Free Energies of Drug-like Molecules using the Reference Interaction Site Model" by David S. Palmer, Volodymyr P. Sergiievskyi, Frank Jensen, and Maxim V. Fedorov will be published in July in the Journal of Chemical Physics. See:


The Journal of Chemical Physics publishes concise and definitive reports of significant research in methods and applications of chemical physics. Innovative research in traditional areas of chemical physics such as spectroscopy, kinetics, statistical mechanics, and quantum mechanics continue to be areas of interest to readers of JCP. In addition, newer areas such as polymers, materials, surfaces/interfaces, information theory, and systems of biological relevance are of increasing importance. Routine applications of chemical physics techniques may not be appropriate for JCP. Content is published online daily, collected into four monthly online and printed issues (48 issues per year); the journal is published by the American Institute of Physics. See:


The American Institute of Physics is a federation of 10 physical science societies representing more than 135,000 scientists, engineers, and educators and is one of the world's largest publishers of scientific information in the physical sciences. Offering partnership solutions for scientific societies and for similar organizations in science and engineering, AIP is a leader in the field of electronic publishing of scholarly journals. AIP publishes 12 journals (some of which are the most highly cited in their respective fields), two magazines, including its flagship publication Physics Today; and the AIP Conference Proceedings series. Its online publishing platform Scitation hosts nearly two million articles from more than 185 scholarly journals and other publications of 28 learned society publishers.

Jason Socrates Bardi | EurekAlert!
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