Controversial Alzheimer’s drug

Last year a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s arrived on the scene called aducanumab, trade name Aduhelm, made by Biogen in Cambridge Massachusetts. It’s claimed this drug is different to its predecessors because it targets the causative biology of the disease – but it’s not without some controversy. To explain, let’s first look at whatContinue reading “Controversial Alzheimer’s drug”

Covid-19 and the brain

A common symptom of Covid-19 is anosmia (loss of the ability to smell) which suggested to some that the virus could get into the brain. More recent evidence seems to bear this out, although there is still a lot of speculation. I once attended a lecture by Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, who astonished theContinue reading “Covid-19 and the brain”

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?”

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?”

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”

What is Remdesivir and how does it work?

Another Covid-19 blog post for the non-expert. Parts of the media are claiming a drug called remdesivir has arrived to save us The BBC: “Remdesivir: Drug has ‘clear-cut’ power to fight coronavirus” RFI – Radio France Internationale, live news: “US claims major breakthrough after positive trial of coronavirus drug remdesivir” The Express: “Hope of coronavirusContinue reading “What is Remdesivir and how does it work?”

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”