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  • February 18, 2016
  • 11:52 AM

The secret pharmacological life of the humble avocado

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Guacamole, while delicious, is actually fairly destructive. This is thanks in part to a compound called persin, which is present in the fruit and leaves of the avocado tree (Persea americana). Persin is an acetogenin (a type of polyketide) made via the same biochemical pathways the avocado plant uses to make its delicious fatty acids. In fact, it closely resembles linoleic acid, an essential omega-6 fatty acid.Avocado fruits in their natural setting (Source)For some reason, persin is usuall........ Read more »

  • February 12, 2016
  • 09:48 AM

Heartbreaking drugs: A Valentine's Day special

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Let's talk about hearts and how they get broken. Literally, with drugs. When we swallow a pill, it's often to help address a problem we're experiencing with a particular body part. An aching head or a sore throat, for example. The pill breaks down in our guts and we absorb the drug into our bloodstream. It travels around our body and eventually ends up at the hurting locale where it works to fix the problem. Unfortunately, sometimes the drug will end up somewhere else and act there to cause an u........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2016
  • 12:30 PM

The RAD-57 – Still Unsafe?

by Rogue Medic in Rogue Medic

I decided to look for something I wrote that I have been wrong about. I thought about Masimo and their RAD-57. I had been very critical of Dr. Michael O’Reilly (then Executive Vice President of Masimo Corporation) for being an advocate of bad science, but he has been hired away by Apple.[1] He should be less dangerous with a telephone than he was with the RAD-57. At the time, he wrote –... Read more »

  • January 13, 2016
  • 04:48 PM

The many names of silicosis

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Silicon, a metalloid situated just beneath carbon in the periodic table, is the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust after oxygen. These two elements join together in all sorts of interesting ways to form silicate minerals, which collectively comprise the vast majority of the Earth's rocks and minerals. One of the major forms of silicate is silicon dioxide (silica), usually occurring as quartz crystals. Silica is found all over the world, being a component of sedimentary (e.g. sands........ Read more »

Donaldson K, & Seaton A. (2012) A short history of the toxicology of inhaled particles. Particle and Fibre Toxicology, 9(1), 13. DOI: 10.1186/1743-8977-9-13  

  • December 4, 2015
  • 10:52 AM

Mondays at the dynamite factory are particularly bad

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

The world is full of things capable of causing us harm: living things (e.g. pathogenic bacteria), chemical things (e.g. cancerous exhaust from a diesel engine), and physical things (e.g. any of heat, cold, noise, or ionizing radiation). Even when you just focus in on places where people work, there are a huge number of ways a person can end up hurt.If an illness is clearly linked to doing a particular job, it tends to end up named after it. I've written about some of these afflictions before: ch........ Read more »

McGuinness BW, & Harris EL. (1961) "Monday head": An interesting occupational disorder. British Medical Journal, 2(5254), 745-747. PMID: 13773988  

Warren JV. (1988) Monday morning sudden death. Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, 10-6. PMID: 3503431  

  • November 25, 2015
  • 11:15 AM

The Fatal Flaw in Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR

by Rogue Medic in Rogue Medic

This is not a study that has a valid control group to determine if there is any benefit from ventilation. There is no group that does not receive ventilations, so it is like a study of one type of blood-letting vs. another type of blood-letting with the researchers taking for granted that blood-letting does improve outcomes. That is not a problem if blood-letting actually improves outcomes.

Should we take it for granted that blood-letting improves outcomes and that the only hypothesis worth s........ Read more »

Nichol, G., Leroux, B., Wang, H., Callaway, C., Sopko, G., Weisfeldt, M., Stiell, I., Morrison, L., Aufderheide, T., Cheskes, S.... (2015) Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR. New England Journal of Medicine, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1509139  

Alldredge BK,, Gelb AM,, Isaacs SM,, Corry MD,, Allen F,, Ulrich S,, Gottwald MD,, O’Neil N,, Neuhaus JM,, Segal MR,.... (2001) A Comparison of Lorazepam, Diazepam, and Placebo for the Treatment of Out-of-Hospital Status Epilepticus. New England Journal of Medicine, 345(25), 1860-1860. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM200112203452521  

  • November 12, 2015
  • 01:47 PM

Savin juniper likes mountains and dislikes diabetes

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

In mountainous regions throughout much of Europe and Asia there grows an evergreen shrub by the name of Juniperus sabina (savin juniper). Being a juniper, it produces berry-like cones and is occasionally infected by members of everyone's favourite genus of sinister orange tentacled fungi, Gymnosporangium.This shrub takes no prisoners (Source)Crushing the leaves of J. sabina produces a strong unpleasant odour, a harbinger of the ability of the plant to poison many of the creatures who consume it......... Read more »

  • October 22, 2015
  • 12:34 PM

Thiaminases poison animals by destroying an essential vitamin

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

A fundamental part of being alive is continually building up and breaking down organic molecules. Some molecules can only be constructed or torn down by a select group of living things, which can make it interesting for everyone else. For example, only bacteria and archaea can synthesize vitamin B12, so we have to get it through our diet or by having it administered as a drug.... Read more »

Moyo A, Bimbo F, Adeyoyin K, Nnaemeka A, Oluwatoyin G, & Oladeji A. (2014) Seasonal ataxia: A case report of a disappearing disease. African Health Sciences, 14(3), 769. DOI: 10.4314/ahs.v14i3.38  

Ringe H, Schuelke M, Weber S, Dorner BG, Kirchner S, & Dorner MB. (2014) Infant botulism: Is there an association with thiamine deficiency?. Pediatrics, 134(5). PMID: 25311602  

  • October 9, 2015
  • 05:25 PM

Changing body colours with drugs and poisons

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

It's time for yet another colour post! Deadly poisons and useful drugs can cause regions of your body to take on a different colour from normal. In addition to being super weird, these unexpected colours often provide a valuable clue for doctors looking to make a diagnosis. Let's look at a couple of examples...... Read more »

  • August 31, 2015
  • 05:09 PM

Sodium formaldehyde sulfoxylate is a picky antidote

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Sodium formaldehyde sulfoxylate, a small sulfur-containing molecule with a propensity to give away its electrons (i.e. a strong reducing agent), has many names and many uses. One of its aliases, rongalite, comes from “rongeage", a French word meaning discharge. It refers to the industrial use of the molecule as a bleaching agent to remove colour from textiles (e.g. to create a white design on a dyed background) and other materials (e.g. to clear up discoloured sugar juice squeezed from plants)........ Read more »

Kotha S, & Khedkar P. (2012) Rongalite: A useful green reagent in organic synthesis. Chemical Reviews, 112(3), 1650-80. PMID: 22107104  

  • July 16, 2015
  • 12:07 AM

Element breath!

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Exposure to relatively toxic metals and metalloids can result in a wide range of symptoms, some of which are pretty weird. Body parts can change colour, skin can erupt with lesions, bones can soften, hair can be shed, the nervous system can go haywire, and the smell of one's breath can transition from unnoticeable to downright peculiar.Long-term exposure to lead (e.g. working at a lead mine or smelter) can cause your breath to acquire a strange sweetish metallic smell, particularly in the mornin........ Read more »

Nuttall KL. (2006) Evaluating selenium poisoning. Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science, 36(4), 409-20. PMID: 17127727  

  • July 15, 2015
  • 04:03 PM

Journal Club: Starlings on Prozac: How pharmaceuticals may affect wildlife

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: Recent research suggests that the commonly prescribed psychiatric drug, Prozac, occurs at environmentally relevant concentrations that can significantly alter behaviour and physiology in wild birds .. Read more... Read more »

Bean, T., Boxall, A., Lane, J., Herborn, K., Pietravalle, S., & Arnold, K. (2014) Behavioural and physiological responses of birds to environmentally relevant concentrations of an antidepressant. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 369(1656), 20130575-20130575. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0575  

Crockett, M., Siegel, J., Kurth-Nelson, Z., Ousdal, O., Story, G., Frieband, C., Grosse-Rueskamp, J., Dayan, P., & Dolan, R. (2015) Dissociable Effects of Serotonin and Dopamine on the Valuation of Harm in Moral Decision Making. Current Biology, 25(14), 1852-1859. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.05.021  

Markman, S., Müller, C., Pascoe, D., Dawson, A., & Buchanan, K. (2011) Pollutants affect development in nestling starlings Sturnus vulgaris. Journal of Applied Ecology, 48(2), 391-397. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01931.x  

  • July 14, 2015
  • 03:14 PM

Extremely harmful chemicals have all sorts of smells

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Our sense of smell likely evolved to help us avoid eating harmful stuff such as poisonous plants or spoiled foods. It's particularly useful since we can employ it prior to actually placing anything in our mouth. To smell something is to detect and interpret airborne molecules, which often arise from a nearby liquid or solid. These molecules enter our nose and activate olfactory receptors, producing signals that travel to the brain where a smell is perceived. We have hundreds of receptor typ........ Read more »

Erickson, T., Thompson, T., & Lu, J. (2007) The approach to the patient with an unknown overdose. Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America, 25(2), 249-281. DOI: 10.1016/j.emc.2007.02.004  

  • June 9, 2015
  • 04:44 PM

Cobalt speeds us up and slows us down

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Cobalt is a relatively hard and brittle metal that can be used to make fancy magnets and is typically found along with copper and nickel in the Earth's crust. It's silver-white in appearance, but when combined with aluminum and oxygen it forms pretty blue compounds such as cobalt blue. Owing to its various effects on the human body, our lives can intersect with cobalt in many ways. One of the things the metal or molecules that contain it tend to do is alter our mobility, speeding us up or s........ Read more »

Ho EN, Chan GH, Wan TS, Curl P, Riggs CM, Hurley MJ, & Sykes D. (2015) Controlling the misuse of cobalt in horses. Drug testing and analysis, 7(1), 21-30. PMID: 25256240  

Liao Y, Hoffman E, Wimmer M, Fischer A, Jacobs J, & Marks L. (2013) CoCrMo metal-on-metal hip replacements. Physical chemistry chemical physics, 15(3), 746-56. PMID: 23196425  

  • June 2, 2015
  • 12:34 AM

Poisons once used as medicines

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

The difference between a poison and a medicine is often not clear. Side effects are essentially ways in which a medicine can harm us but it's alright because the effects usually aren't too bad and we otherwise get healed. Antibiotics often cause an upset stomach, but they also prevent us from dying of an infected paper cut. A more extreme example is cancer drugs, which are often highly toxic but are deemed necessary in order to defeat a greater evil. Even still, there are substances for which th........ Read more »

  • May 25, 2015
  • 10:59 PM

How houseflies resist the toxic effects of DDT

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Alright, it's insecticide day here at Rosin Cerate, and I've decided to look back at a classic.DDT is a synthetic organochloride insecticide, meaning that we have to manufacture it by reacting chemicals together, it consists of hydrogen, carbon, and chlorine atoms, and it's good at killing many annoying invertebrates including flies, lice, and mosquitoes.While it's useful in that it can kill insects, three key properties of DDT enable it to cause serious ecological problems: (1) it's often not e........ Read more »

  • May 13, 2015
  • 09:00 AM

Half Male, Half Female, Completely Weird

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

It’s tough being a guy. I imagine it’s just as tough being a girl. What if you were exactly half of each? Bilateral gynandromrophs are rare animals that are exactly one half of each sex. They have occurred in insects, crustaceans, spiders, and birds. We know how some come about, but the birds are giving scientists a heck of a time.... Read more »

Renfree, M., Chew, K., & Shaw, G. (2014) Hormone-Independent Pathways of Sexual Differentiation. Sexual Development, 8(5), 327-336. DOI: 10.1159/000358447  

Dumanski, J., Rasi, C., Lonn, M., Davies, H., Ingelsson, M., Giedraitis, V., Lannfelt, L., Magnusson, P., Lindgren, C., Morris, A.... (2014) Smoking is associated with mosaic loss of chromosome Y. Science, 347(6217), 81-83. DOI: 10.1126/science.1262092  

Zhao, D., McBride, D., Nandi, S., McQueen, H., McGrew, M., Hocking, P., Lewis, P., Sang, H., & Clinton, M. (2010) Somatic sex identity is cell autonomous in the chicken. Nature, 464(7286), 237-242. DOI: 10.1038/nature08852  

  • February 2, 2015
  • 04:30 AM

Silent witnesses: investigating wildlife crime in Scotland

by naturallyspeakingpodcast in Naturally Speaking Podcast

Welcome to the latest Naturally Speaking blog post. This post was written by Research Associate Caroline Millins a qualified veterinary pathologist and researcher in wildlife disease epidemiology. Here Caroline describes work that was featured in her most recent research paper, but also gives the broader story to becoming involved in wildlife pathology. Silent witnesses: investigating wildlife crime in Scotland Seeing wildlife […]

... Read more »

Millins, C., Howie, F., Everitt, C., Shand, M., & Lamm, C. (2014) Analysis of suspected wildlife crimes submitted for forensic examinations in Scotland. Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology, 10(3), 357-362. DOI: 10.1007/s12024-014-9568-1  

  • January 22, 2015
  • 03:06 PM

Black Tar Heroin: Lower HIV Transmission vs Higher Bacterial Infections?

by Pranab Chatterjee in Scepticemia

The rise of street-cut, unsanitary preparations of Black Tar Heroin has allegedly reduced HIV transmission but at the cost of higher numbers of fatal, bacterial infections, notably botulism, clusters of which have been regularly identified in California.... Read more »

  • September 10, 2014
  • 07:00 PM

Anecdotes and the Appearance of Improvement

by Rogue Medic in Rogue Medic

We like to give treatments that produce results that we can see and logically attribute to the treatments we gave.

We like to give IV (IntaVenous) furosemide (Lasix – frusemide in Commonwealth countries) for CHF (Congestive Heart Failure).

1. The patient had CHF.
2. I gave IV furosemide.
3. The patient produced urine.... Read more »

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