Pharmablogology

Inside a 5MV Accelerator

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Pfizer-BioNTech are making a mRNA vaccine, but what is that?

Covid-19 blog for the non-expert The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19 is all over the media. What hasn’t been in the headlines so much, is that this is a mRNA vaccine and if successful, it’ll be the first of its type. Some say they will not take it because it’s “rushed” but this misses the pointContinue reading “Pfizer-BioNTech are making a mRNA vaccine, but what is that?”

New Covid-19 tests

A Covid-19 blog post for the non-expert We’ve been hearing how the UK government wants to return to normal life under its £100bn Operation Moonshot Covid-19 testing programme. Headlines such as those in the Daily Mail have proclaimed “Prospect’ of 10-minute ‘rapid turnaround’ Covid tests” but others including the BMJ are not so sure. I thought,Continue reading “New Covid-19 tests”

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”

Ammonium nitrate: a Jekyll and Hyde chemical

Please donate to the appeal if you can, as hospitals are reporting they are unable to treat further casualties as hundreds of beds immediately filled up following the blast. __________________________________________________________________________________________ The explosion which rocked Beirut’s Port was almost certainly caused by inappropriate storage of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate. But what is ammonium nitrate and whyContinue reading “Ammonium nitrate: a Jekyll and Hyde chemical”

Murder and Atoms

Richard Hill and fellow hikers were walking in the Yorkshire Dales, about an hour’s drive from where I live, when they stopped to take a photograph. He stood by a stream near to the Sell Gill Holes caves in Pen-y-ghent but didn’t notice, just behind him, was the face-down body of a half-naked woman. TheyContinue reading “Murder and Atoms”

Has the scientific method been suspended?

There’s a scene in the Netflix series Space Force when Chief Scientist Dr. Adrian Mallory asks, “why do you distrust scientists?” To which General Naird angrily replies, “you scientists say don’t eat carbs one day and only eat carbs the next”. One of the scientists in the room interjects, saying, “because of the sample sizesContinue reading “Has the scientific method been suspended?”

A scientific tightrope

The two most senior scientific advisors to the UK, Sir Patrick Vallance (Chief Scientific Advisor) and Professor Chris Whitty (Chief Medical Officer) have come into a lot of criticism recently for failing to say what they really believe regarding the Government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak. As Civil Servants they are meant to be impartialContinue reading “A scientific tightrope”

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?”


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