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Showing posts from 2014

Top 3 Ways to Beat the Cold and Flu this winter!

What is the flu? Influenza or “flu” for short is a virus. Viruses contain either RNA or DNA but never both in one viral cell. They work by entering human cells via adsorption and exploiting the functions of the nucleus, in the healthy human cell, to replicate the  nucleic acid and place it inside capsules called nucleocapsids   which are then budded off and released out of the cell to go onto infect more healthy cells in the body; a vicious cycle.


Happy Holidays from Crystals and Catalysts! I wish your holidays are filled with peace and prosperity through the new year! Mariam- Crystals&Catalysts

The Chemistry of Muffin Making (best muffin recipe EVER!)

It's Christmas Eve, so I thought I'll upload something lighthearted and sweet, just in time for Christmas day. This is one of the most perfect muffin recipes (I've tried so many till I found this one!) and in the end I have put some tips to make sure you get the fluffiest muffins possible.

Dark Chocolate Improves Vasodilation (Yay for lower blood pressure!)

Dark chocolate has many health benefits and one health benefit is that it can lower blood pressure, although there has been research on this before, a new study goes into studying its effect on endothelial cells (responsible for vasoconstriction of blood vessels). At least  30% of the English population have blood pressure and most of them might not even know they have it and have not yet been diagnosed.   The endothelial cells are vital for cardiovascular function and the dysfunction of endothelial cells is one of the most precocious events in atherosclerotic process. Which is the main reason why this study was carried out on endothelial cells and taking the measurement of the  flow-mediated dilation (FMD). The FMD measurement can be seen as a predictor   of the incidence of cardiovascular events in adults with no prior cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The Method  A randomized and controlled trail was carried out, using 30 healthy young individuals, placed into 2 group

Great News for Wikipedia Lovers

We were always warned at university about the reliability of Wikipedia and that we shouldn't use it for guidance when working on projects and/or coursework and we're recommended to use Google Scholar and Science Direct for scientific research.  Because Wikipedia is an open online encyclopedia in which everyone and anyone can edit and add to the pages, its reliability isn't 100%. However the good news is, is that the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) have given access to the chemistry writers at Wikipedia access to their all their journals (gold accounts) so to ensure that every single piece of information on Wikipedia is correct and to update with all the latest updates in chemistry research.  Donating 100 "RSC Gold" accounts to Wikipedia editors gives them access  to the complete portfolio of RSC journals and databases.  Andy Mabbett the RSC's Wikimedian in Residence commented to the Royal Society of Chemistry's blog " Royal Society of Chemist

Don't believe the science lies: Okra water Cures Diabetes

I recently came across a Facebook post, from a doctor on the social media website, allegedly stating that if you soak okra in water and drink it, it will presumably be able to make your diabetes “go away”. Obviously claims like this are difficult to believe straight away, because anyone can write and claim anything on social media and gullible people may believe it; since diabetes affects almost at least one person in all our families and we all wish there was a cure for diabetes to help our loved ones from the dilemma called diabetes. Sadly diabetes cannot be cured, it’s a condition that you have to live with and combat it with regular exercise and controlling your diet and eating habits. I then went on to research and look for any journals to see if there is any evidence for these claims, however the results I got back were very little. I found only three journals. I also found many other posts on websites including ; who do not falsify these claims but

Weight-Loss Surgery Cures Diabetes

Diabetes is a very difficult condition to live with, it constricts your lifestyle, eating choices and almost every thought you have is about your blood sugar levels. An additional problem is if you’re diabetic and overweight. It’s recommended to keep your weight in the healthy weight range as recommended by the NHS, however this is not the case with certain diabetes patients.  Bariatric surgery (weight-loss surgery) is an operation that is recommended for diabetic patients who have severely overweight (i.e. having a BMI over 30-35) to help them lose weight quickly. Not only is this operation cholesterol and blood pressure reducing but it can also lower insulin resistance. By losing weight via gastric bypass surgery, the patient’s insulin resistance decreases resulting in a good improvement on the patient’s blood sugar.  Gastric bypass surgery rapidly has a positive effect on the body’s hormones; stimulating the pancreas to produce insulin which improves blood sugar level

5 Facts about Antihistamines

Anti-histamines are life savers for almost everyone. Around 1 in 4 people in Britain suffer from allergies and most of the world’s population tackle hay fever every spring & summer and others have all year round rhinitis causing sneezing, watery eyes, itching and rashes. Fact number 1: Anti-histamines block the action of histamine in the body. Histamine is the compound that is released during the allergic reaction at H1 receptor sites, which induces symptoms of hay fever, allergic rhinitis, allergic skin conditions or allergic conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eyes). Fact number 2: Anti-histamines have a useful side effect of being able to prevent nausea and vomiting and sedation. Fact number 3: There are 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation antihistamines:  • 1st generation antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine and chlorphenamine, which can induce symptoms of drowsiness  • 2nd generation antihistamines, such as loratadine and cetirizine, a drowsiness-free and are u

Micro-needle Plasters

My previous post was on the success of research for finding a vaccine for the Hepatitis-C virus , this posts looks into a new way to prevent Hep-C along with other blood transmitted diseases in a magnificent way. Since using sharp, medical needles are risky and have been a transmitter of diseases, when used incorrectly; it’s suggested that healthcare professionals use the needle only once and with the correct procedure and is disposed of safely. But there’s also an alternative option, which is much safer and painless. Micro needles affixed to plaster are painless and safe to administer and they don’t get through to the nerves, which almost gives a Velcro-like texture. The micro-needles are made of soft contact lens like material and at their dry state, the needles are hard and can penetrate the skin (50 microns) and once in the skin, can rapidly take up fluid from the interstitial fluid, into the micro-needles, and swell.

New Hopes for Hepatitis-C Vaccine

Hepatitis-C is a worldwide virus that infects people if they come into contact with the blood of an infected person. The potent virus damages the liver by causing liver cirrhosis, usually after several years of infection, which can lead to liver cancer in cases of chronic Hepatitis-C. Even though there are many successful anti-viral treatments they can be very expensive especially in the areas that it is prevalent in: North Africa, the Middle East and Central and East Asia. Symptoms of Hepatitis-C §   Flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches and loss of appetite §   Feeling tired all the time §   Depression Hepatitis-C is spread by: §   Shared needles for vaccinations or medical treatment §   Shared needles during illegal drug injection §   Needle- stick injury via contaminated needles, in nurses and doctors who deal with Hepatitis-C carrying patients

8 Facts about Coconut Water

The increasingly popular drink, coconut water, is getting good reviews for its elixir-like health benefits and its hydrating properties so what is there to know about coconut water… 1) Coconut water is rich …in antioxidants and ions such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium and vitamins B6, C, and E, as well as vitamin K, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate.

Bacteria Decides if you’ll be Fat or Thin

Some people can’t lose weight and some people can’t put it on and I’m one of those people that people hate because I can eat whatever I want without gaining a pound whilst my friends find it extremely difficult to lose weight and all that is because we have different metabolisms to each other. It’s also a well known fact that we get our looks from our parents so it won’t be a surprise if I tell you that we also inherit our weight from our parents too.  The first research of its kind has found that the existence of a particular type of bacteria in our gut has the potential to determine if the person will be fat or thin and it can actually be inherited through our DNA not just by our environmental factors.

Exam Drug Fails to Live up to its Expectations

Exam season is always a stressful time for students and every time it comes around everyone prepares in their own to make sure they can perform their best, even if it means taking performance enhancing drugs. There’s a prescription drug called Modafinil that can enhance your concentration. Personally I've never heard of anything like this till yesterday, the only drug I heard of at exam season is caffeine pills. Loads of students would take caffeine pills at exam season to try and stay up and revise or pull an all-nighter the day before the exam to cram in as much information as possible.  But sometimes that didn’t end up well because some students would end up taking too much caffeine pills and faint during the exam and subsequently need to be hospitalised for overdose.

5 Health Myths Everyone Follows Today: Corrected!

The "3-second rule" Say you 've  dropped a sweet on the floor so your friend shouts  “Quick! Pick it up! 3 second rule!” Because apparently if you drop food on the floor, you have three mighty seconds to rescue it and it will still be pure and untouched by bacteria as it was before you dropped it. Food dropped onto any contaminated surface, in this case the floor, has the potential to cause food poisoning and many other problems nobody wants and it was found that at least 20,000 UK residents seek hospital treatment for contaminated food case, a year, which could have been easily avoided. It has also been scientifically proven that the 3-second rule or 5-second rule doesn’t exist and it is safer to just throw away whatever food you dropped on the floor. Better to be safe than sorry.

Ozone Nano-Bubble Water: Breakthrough for Chemists and Dentists

Ozone is typically associated with the ozone layer that surrounds the Earth and any articles about it are usually about the size of the hole in the ozone layer and how and what affects it every day. But that isn't what this article is about. This blog post is about how ozone can be bubbled into water to make nano-bubble water that is a powerful antiseptic agent that can be used to treat periodontitis and other dental related problems. The new research was published in the journal: Science and Technology of advanced materials.

Deleting Paracetamol from the Pharmaceutical Dictionary

Proposals have surfaced that paracetamol should be reassessed to make a “safer” version of paracetamol without the liver-harming side effects, even though paracetamol is the most widely exploited pain-killer for everyone around the world and a good antipyretic (fever reducer).

Manipulation of Anthrax to Deliver Cancer Drugs to Tumours

Cancer is acknowledged as one of the most dangerous biological diseases and there are many ongoing research studies to try and find suitable drugs to cure the uncontrollable cell replication. Cancer is caused when cells replicate unusually and rapidly to form tumours, this is because the cell does not undergo apoptosis (the normal programmed cell death) and these tumours need to be treated so that the disease does not further spread to the rest of the body and so that the tumours do not cause pressure on other parts of the body. [1] In 2008 breast cancer was responsible for the death of about 153 women in every 100,000 women in the population [1] and about 76 cases of lung cancer per 100,000 men. [1] These statistics have led to an escalation in the development of new treatments in an attempt to impede the uncontrolled cell replication typical of cancer cells.

Sugar is more addictive than cocaine... – what?!

“Everything is a poison, nothing is a poison. It is the dose that makes the poison.” Last week the statement “sugar is more addictive than cocaine” was spreading in the science news. I personally found this really strange and hard to believe, so I was directed to an article about a study conducted by the University of Edinburgh.

White Tea Inhibits Proliferation of Colon Cancer Cells

I was searching for journals about new research within cosmetic chemistry when I came across this journal about white tea. This is the first time I have heard about white tea. Black, green and herbal teas are the most renowned teas that everybody hears of and green tea has been getting a lot of good media coverage for its anti-oxidant properties.

Botox utilized as a medical prevention of abnormal joint adhesion.

Botox is famous for being used for cosmetic reasons and it is largely used an anti-ageing treatment to try and reverse fine lines and wrinkles on the face. It’s also known to get rid of migraines and headaches caused by possible uncontrollable muscle spasm; Botox inhibits muscle spasms and therefore causes muscle paralysis thus relieving the headache/migraine. Although Botox has a reputation for being an “age-defying elixir” it also has medical uses and can be used as a treatment for certain neuromuscular conditions. 

A dose of dark chocolate a day will keep the doctor away!

Since we are talking about chocolate, this is a very serious matter and needs to be treated with care. I’m not talking about the processed dark chocolate with copious amounts of sugar in it, but the dark chocolate with at least 50% cacao within it, which has been manufactured in a way such that the flavonol concentration inside it is not depleted.

All Things Sweet about the Chemistry of Honey

Honey has been crowned as a health elixir for its endless health benefits and it is the only food that is produced by insects and eaten by humans, without the need to be processed first.  The many benefits of honey are: ·          Treatment  of  sore throat, ulcers and burns ·          Anti-bacterial properties ·          Anti-oxidant properties ·          Guard against heart disease ·          Good for weight loss

Coffee has evolved twice!

The coffee genome has just been published. Denoeud et al have sequenced the genome of coffee (biological name Coffea canephora). They found that within coffee’s 11 chromosome pairs, that there were many duplicated genes which include the one that code for the production of caffeine. They also suggested that these duplications enhance the products produced by the coffee plant to produce more effective proteins. The research also found that unlike tea and cacao (the chocolate component), the genes that code for the production of caffeine, in the coffee plant, are different to the genome sequence for the tea and cacao caffeine-producing enzymes, defining that the caffeine production genome has evolved at least two times. The genome sequence could help in research to help identify the genes that help the plant to combat diseases (related to the plant) and to also cope with climate change and to also encourage more delicious tasting coffee! To read more about coffee and caffeine

Combating E. coli Drug Resistance by Mutation

Bacterial mutation can be caused by a number of factors, such as genetic mutation and genetic transfer. This mutation causes them to become resistant to antibiotics, making life harder for researchers and starting a new strain of resistant bacteria which could potentially be life threatening.

There needs to be more research on Opioid painkillers and Enkephalins!

Chronic pain is something that most people have to go through every day, such as back pain caused by sciatica or other reasons, headaches, migraines or other neurological pains. To help get people through the difficult pain, several painkillers have been produced and a widely used such as codeine and morphine (sometimes codeine is given as co-codamol, a mix of codeine and paracetamol). 

Coffee: the Good, the Better and the Not-So-Good

Millions of people over the world start their day with an aromatic cup of coffee generally to wake them up.  Coffee contains caffeine which is the stimulant that interacts with the body to make you feel more alert. How Coffee works and its benefits Caffeine works as an antagonist (block receptors) of adenosine receptors in the brain. Caffeine mimics the natural neurotransmitter; adenosine, and blocks the receptor, preventing adenosine from binding to the receptor and slowing the nervous impulses. In turn this makes the nervous impulses quicker and the brain works faster. Also caffeine can relieve headaches and migraines since it binds to adrenergic receptors on vascular muscle cells which cause them to constrict instead of dilating.

A new hope for Parkinson’s disease …?

First of all I’d like to dedicate this blog post to my late uncle who was a victim of Parkinson’s disease. May he rest in peace… Parkinson’s disease was discovered by James Parkinson in 1867 and had initially called it “Shaking palsey”. Parkinson’s is the 2 nd most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s, and can be identified by shaking hands (tremor), rigidity and posture instability; cased by the loss of neurons in the Substantia Nigra (in the brain), and the lack of dopamine (dopamine smoothes out skeletal muscle movements) due to the death of dopaminergic neurones in the Substantia Nigra (black substance) in the brain and also the accumulation of lewy bodies. Other symptoms of Parkinson’s are shuffling gait, depression and anger.

Coconut water: healthy or hype?

Social media is full of health gurus that are obsessed with healthy eating and exercise and what they can drink to maintain their energy during workouts. This is where coconut water comes in. Coconut water (biological name Cocos nucifera L.) is sometimes compared to energy drinks and glorified about for its great benefits and hydrating properties. It is even now more widely available in grocery stores than previous years. The hydrating drink is known to have a bunch of nutritious benefits and is harvested from green coconuts that are still unripe. Coconut water is low in calories, rich in antioxidants and electrolytes (such as the inorganic ion: potassium), it is also low in fat and cholesterol free and has elevated amounts of vitamin C .

Should we fear the Ebola virus or not?

“Breaking news: Ebola virus has been declared as an international public health emergency by the World Health organization” That sentence was the first thing I saw when I logged into Facebook as I’ve started planning and writing this article. What is the Ebola virus (EBOV)? BBC Ebola Virus The Ebola virus is a very terrible disease and lethal if caught and it has a high fatality rate of 60% (WHO 01/04/2014) [1] Ebola is not an airborne virus but it can be spread via bodily fluids such as sweat and its recommended that you don’t shake hands with anyone who could potential carry the disease or has recovered and still in recuperation period.

A little bit more about me

I graduated in medicinal chemistry in November 2013. I really enjoyed studying medicinal chemistry at university (apart from organic chemistry!) and I wish it was a better known subject of study. Before I went to study medicinal chemistry at university I wanted to study pharmacy or bio-medical science, because those were the main courses I have heard of. But I went on to do some work experience in a pharmacy and I realized that I just couldn't imagine spending the rest of my life in a position like this. So I went back to researching different courses at university. I found biochemistry, pure biology, pure chemistry bio-medical sciences but I still wasn't convinced. One day I walked into my chemistry class and overheard a conversation between a class mate and our teacher. He was asking him about what he thought about Medicinal Chemistry as a subject. The name got me interested and right away I looked it up online and applied through all the universities that studied m