What has opioid addiction got to do with cats?

Cat lovers will know the effect of catnip on their beloved pets only too well. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a member of the mint family and along with a similar plant called silver vine (Actinidia polygamy) it elicits a feline euphoria followed by a period of placid tranquillity, lasting perhaps 15-30 minutes. The effects wereContinue reading “What has opioid addiction got to do with cats?”

Maradona and a Biochemist

I start this blog post with, “I don’t want to sound bitter but…” and then I’ll go on to probably do just that. The media is full of tributes to Diego Maradona; some call him a genius, some a deeply flawed legend. For me personally, he was a cocaine addict connected to the Mafia whoContinue reading “Maradona and a Biochemist”

Death by Liquorice

A blog post for the non-expert The media is reporting a 54-year-old construction worker from Massachusetts has died of liquorice poisoning. Not for the first time when dealing with such issues, the press reports are so similar that they were likely all cloned from the original source, a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine.Continue reading “Death by Liquorice”

Cannabis tyres

I started my post-graduate scientific career as a plant biochemist (phytochemist to be more precise). Once talking to a geologist about how fascinating plants are, he replied, “plants just get in the way of the rocks,” and so I guess your interests very much depend on your viewpoint. I moved up the career evolutionary  treeContinue reading “Cannabis tyres”

What is interferon and is it effective against Covid-19?

A blog post for the non-expert Our best hope against Covid-19 is an effective vaccine, and efforts in that direction are galloping along like no other time in history. There are so many vaccines being investigated, it’s hard to keep up with the numbers, but at the time of writing there appear to be wellContinue reading “What is interferon and is it effective against Covid-19?”

Covid-19 was genetically-engineered

A Covid-19 blog post for the non-expert The story that Covid-19 is a genetically-engineered virus from a Wuhan laboratory has gone viral across the internet (dated pun intended). President Trump implied it, and the Daily Express ran a 10th March headline, “Coronavirus may have been genetically engineered for the efficient spreading in the human population,Continue reading “Covid-19 was genetically-engineered”

A sober look at dexamethasone

A Covid-19 blog post for the non-expert It stared with a 16th June 2020 press release  from the University of Oxford “Low-cost dexamethasone reduce death by up to one third in hospitalised patients with severe respiratory complications of COVID-19” – which triggered the equivalent of a media cytokine storm (pun explained shortly). I do not want,Continue reading “A sober look at dexamethasone”

Covid-19 and blood pressure

As well as a vaccine, studies are being conducted into drugs which might stop, or at least inhibit, the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Modern drugs are designed to target specific sites, called receptors, in the body and the right choice of receptor is often the difference between a successful drug and a dud. IContinue reading “Covid-19 and blood pressure”

New migraine drug hails the future of therapeutic development

If you follow the science sections of the general media, you may have seen reports of a new migraine drug called Erenumab. The drug is not yet on the market but shows promise having just come through the final phases of clinical testing. Erenumab, made by Novartis, is one of several similar drugs being developedContinue reading “New migraine drug hails the future of therapeutic development”