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Osteoarthritis

Arthritis is a term used to describe several inflammatory conditions affecting joints. As is so often the case with medical history, the name was derived from observed symptoms but subsequently it was found these were the result of a plethora of different causes. Today, “arthritis” covers around 100 different conditions associated with joint disease. RheumatoidContinue reading “Osteoarthritis”

The world’s most expensive drug is not a drug

Reports have appeared in the media recently headlining “the world’s most expensive drug” The subject of these headlines is Libmeldy, but the media seems obsessed with its cost, rather than what Libmeldy actually is. And, by the way, Libmeldy is no more a drug than my bird-watching binoculars are the James Web Space Telescope, butContinue reading “The world’s most expensive drug is not a drug”

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?”

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”


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