Rudolphomycin and Rednose
Season's Greetings from Peak Scientific. To celebrate the holiday season this year, we’re looking at the festive anecdote behind Rudolphomycin and the cyclic sugar called "Red Nose".
Rudolphomycin is an antitumor antibiotic compound which was named after the character in the Puccini opera La Bohème. Surprisingly, its name has nothing to do with the famous Christmas reindeer Rudolph.
Rudolphomycin, or C42H52N2O16, was discovered by Dr Nettleton who had also named other chemical compounds that he had dicovered after opera characters. Some include alcindoromycin, bohemamine, collinemycin, mimimycin and schaunardimycin. His daughters, who were also named after female opera characters, joked that he started the fashion of naming molecules with opera character names because he ran out of daughters.
In the 70s on degradation of rudolphomycin, Dr Nettleton obtained a new sugar and gave it the name 'rednose', breaking the tradition from opera character names. According to rumours, the journal editor of the paper where the new sugar was submitted was in the Christmas spirit as it was December and didn't question the unusual name. Dr Nettleton's colleagues weren't thrilled by the name choice and accussed him of not taking his job seriously. However, by the time they discovered the name it was too late to change it as the paper was already formally submitted.