Posts Tagged ‘Drugs’

Oven baked pizza that gets you baked!

// December 17th, 2009 // Comments Off on Oven baked pizza that gets you baked! // Drugs, Just for Fun

Dude this pizza has weed in it

You’d expect it in Amsterdam, but now the trend has reached America. Pizza, lasagna, cheesecake with a good helping of weed. It’s not illegal if it’s medical!

It’s a medical marijuana dispensary slash eatery called Ganja Gourmet, and it just opened in Denver. You need a card from a doctor to buy the food, as written on the tie-dyed shirts of employees “Our food is so great, you need a license to eat it!!!” On the other hand, 90% of the food has been take away for the first week, so how well are they controlling that? According to this, the council is considering making eating or smoking cannabis on site illegal – so take away only. Isn’t that only going to make it worse?

Aside from possible issues in dosage control I think this is a great idea, particularly for people with cancer who feel nauseas and have trouble eating. Plus where does it say we have to take all the fun out of medicine? Do we have to grind everything up into a flavourless pill for maximum un-enjoyment? The health benefits of having fun, laughing and sharing a meal shouldn’t be underestimated, think of clown doctors! And with all the crappy drugs and hospital stays and radiation and chemo and hairloss and all that goes with cancer treatment, they SHOULD get a special pass to a groovy cafe where they can take drugs no one else is allowed to take. There has to be some silver lining!

So take away or dine in, you can have your high and eat it too.

Hat tip to Dr_Leigh on Twitter. Picture from somewhere in Cambodia, not connected to Ganja Gourmet. Apparently they’ve been doing the special topping for a while now!

A recipe for eggnog, and notes on the spice-drug nutmeg

// November 30th, 2009 // 5 Comments » // Drugs, Just for Fun, Science at Home


Arr, it be that time of the year when all the good cabin boys hang their stockings off the mainsail and cook gets busy making eggnog.

My harbour is in Australia, so eggnog is not a favourite of mine. The rich, milkiness of the drink is ill-suited for the hot Yuletides we experience, and a glass of ice-cold fermented grape is better suited for the clime.

All the same, eggnog is TRADITION, and is a particularly piratey tradition when you make it with RUM! Here be a recipe for the delicious December drink, made piratey by your Captain but sourced from yon landlubber website.

6 eggs (parrot)
2.5 cups whipping cream
2 cups whole milk (powdered variety easiest for storage)
1 cup caster sugar
0.5 cup dark rum
0.5 cup brandy (substitute with more rum if you can)
0.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
0.5 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

Beat the eggs until frothy (the eggs, not your mouth), add sugar and beat, sprinkle in nutmeg and vanilla and beat, add in the whipped cream slowly while beating, add the grog and beat. Chill for an hour belowdecks and serve cold to your shipmates.

Beating is the best way to mix ingredients as it lets out your inner anger and anguish which otherwise may turn rancid and make you bitter inside. If Ahab had made eggnog during his voyage on the Pequod it is likely that the events leading to his death would never have occurred, and he would be living to this day a happy one-legged individual. Beating also gives you most excellent biceps that will strike fear into the hearts of your enemies.

Ye may notice a certain buzz upon drinking your concoction, which ye may blame on the rum (you DID add extra rum, right? Don’t stop at a measly half a cup.) Well ye are most likely right, but all the same, did ye know nutmeg can be a drug? That’s right, melange is not the only spice-drug. Nutmeg be a creepy looking thing, a seed wrapped tightly by bright red tentacles of another spice called mace.

Nutmeg and Mace

Nutmeg is in certain doses hallucinogenic. The effects, by all accounts, are not enjoyable. You see, nutmeg contains myristicin, which is a weak monoamine oxidase inhibitor – you may be familiar with that term as a class of antidepressant. In high doses (of a couple of tablespoons) nutmeg can cause hallucinations and euphoria, but before you go reaching for that spice rack let me tell you of the side-effects, including nausea, bloodshot eyes, dry mouth, anxiety, convulsions and palpitations. Plus it kicks in after three hours (making it a likely candidate for a this-isn’t-working-try-more overdose) and lasts for about five hours. Plus the bragging rights are non-existent. “Oh dude, I did like two tablespoons of nutmeg this weekend!” HARDCORE!

All things considered, I’ll be sticking to my rum-filled eggnog, and adding spice-drug just for flavour. This one’s to yer health.

Mac for 3D Molecular Visualisation. Apple makes Drug Design Sexy

// November 23rd, 2009 // 3 Comments » // Drugs, How Things Work

Drug design seems a glamorous industry full of coloured liquids, crystal bottles and incredibly expensive machines, but the reality involves a lot of repetitive experimentation and number crunching. Taking a lot of data and making it something you can imagine and understand is a freaking hard thing to do! Mac has made it easier (oh mac, how I love thee *hugs*) with sexy 3D visualisations for drug design.

scientist drawing molecule structure

Oh for the days when we could take a natural product and improve it by trial and error! Okay, we still do it a bit, but the trend at the moment is for a premeditated plan of attack – you need to track down active areas on target molecules and imagine a molecule that will fit in the active area, and then find out a way to make that molecule. It’s aptly called rational drug design, computer-assisted drug design or computer-assisted molecular design (CADD and CAMD).

Rational drug design is taking something that works a little bit and creating something else that works better. Identifying that initial β€œlead” molecule can be done by either using the natural product in the body (if it is known), studying cultural leads (old wives tales often have some truth to them), or by running a big ol’ experiment with a massive library of drugs. OH YEAH!

So we take the lead molecule and find out how well it binds to the molecule to make a benchmark. Then we change it. Add in a bit more positive charge on one end might make it stick better to a negative pocket in the active site. Adding a bit of bulk will make it fit nice and tight, less likely to fall out but if you make it too big then it won’t fit at all. Maybe your active site has two pockets and they need to be linked together a certain distance apart. This is where good old experimenting comes in, and each new trial reveals a little more about how the active site binds to a drug.

Following the molecules down the rabbit hole like this is called QSAR – quantitative structure-activity relationships – measuring the level of activity the drug has (or how well it binds to the target) against changes in structure. In the end we make a fancy-pants equation and use that to create the most effective drug POSSIBLE TO MAN with the least amount of side effects. It takes a long time, but the results include many of the drugs on the market today.

But what about 3D technology?

Imagine the time you can save by having a picture of the active site already! Rather than run hundreds of different drugs for your QSAR, you can pretty much paint a molecule in and try a few variations. By actually having that picture in front of us we can design drugs much more effectively, targeting them to the areas we already know are there. Plus it looks HOT. Check out Tamiflu.

Tamiflu Tamiflu

You can click on it and open up a 3D structure that you can rotate and zoom in on.

3D small molecules aren’t exactly new, but big-ass complex proteins are harder! I know of two journals that are using interactive 3D images of molecular structures: The journal of Biological Chemistry and PloS ONE are using software called iSee to make models of proteins and small molecules that you can move around and zoom in on. The Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) are a non-for-profit organisation who are creating 3D structures of proteins and releasing them into the public domain for unrestricted use. It’s like open-source science! Having a ready-made starting point like this opens up a massive chunk of lab time and budget, and it’s for freeeeeee! You can download it for freeeeeee here, and have a look at their library. These pictures have come from which is easy-peasy if you just want to click and enjoy.

The only thing cooler than 3D molecules are 3D molecules that actually look like they’re jumping out the screen at you, like the amazing graphics of Coraline or Up (seriously, 3D movies are way cooler than I remember them! I remember those dodgy red and blue glasses, and thinking that was the best thing since ships biscuits even though it gave me a headache. These movies kick those old ones ASSES!) Seeing a molecule in true 3D is even more amazing, and it’s easier to see all the details. We did it once or twice at Uni in a special mini-cinema they had set up, I think to help people find the best place to drill for oil (under the X, duh). It was awesome seeing all the little enzymes supersized! If you’ve got some of those 3D glasses lying around, check Tamiflu out now! Guess those red and blue glasses were good for something after all!

Tamiflu in 3D

My boyfriend SexyMan blogged about all this here on his site Emerging 3D, albeit sans the science. What he does have is details on how to trick out a mac so it can do stereoscopic 3D and a link to some Mac scientific software. Mac’s are sexy enough, but a tricked out 3D displaying new iMac with the cool new touch-mouse? My mouth is watering just THINKING about it!

Why I am Anti Antibacterials

// November 15th, 2009 // 5 Comments » // How Things Work

Work just bought three lovely new bottles of antibacterial soap. Bummer. One of my very first posts was about how much antibacterial EVERYTHING there is nowadays, and how it will unleash a race of superbugs onto us all, causing the apocalypse.

I’ve settled down a little now, because I went to a talk with a microbiologist (at the RiAus – see my previous post) and asked him what he thought about antibacterials, and he said they were unlikely to cause multiresistant bacteria because it mostly happens in hospitals, where a lot of sick people on a lot of different drugs are crammed together and cross-infect each other (yummy). I still think antibacterials are only helping select the most resilient bacteria out there by giving them an advantage over the weaker bacteria, but he’s probably right about the multiresistant thing.

Anyway, antibacterials are bad for reasons other than creating resistant bacteria. Which I talk about in this video I made to raise awareness, and for funzies πŸ™‚

Why I am Anti Antibacterials from Captain Skellett on Vimeo.

There were a couple of other things he said which I thought were fantastic. Like that biology is not an exact science. Physics can calculate how to get to the moon, and it will work everytime (excluding Apollo 11 of course) because the moon doesn’t dodge. Bacteria do. With antibacterials we’ve created an environment where evolution steps in and resistance can develop. It’s particularly bad because drug discovery takes about 10 years to take a drug from conception to sale, and bacteria evolve a lot faster than that.

Also, you know how you have e-coli naturally in your gut which help you digest food (I distinctly remember my microbiology teacher telling us that poop was just e-coli with a little bit of colour.) Did you ever wonder where they came from? When you’re born you are e-coli free, the womb is a very sterile environment, but somewhere along the line in the first few weeks you get a whole colony of e-coli. You don’t usually hear people discussing babies, mothers and feces, but that’s the gist of it…

How Viagra Works

// November 4th, 2009 // 2 Comments » // Drugs, How Things Work, Just for Fun, Science Communication, Sex and Reproduction

Viagra, that little blue pill. How does it work? How was it discovered? What are the side effects? This video answers all your questions about the first ever oral treatment for erectile dysfunction, written, edited and starring yours truly.

How Viagra Works from Captain Skellett on Vimeo.

Erectile dysfunction can be embarrassing for pirates, but don’t let your confidence sink to Davy Jones. Pop a few Big Blue and you’ll soon be saying things like…
Got wood?
The mainsail is ALREADY raised. IN MY PANTS!
This dinghy is four sheets to the wind.
Walk the plank? Walk THIS plank!
If you think Big Blue is for you, please see the ship’s physician

This be me first step into vlog territory, hit me with ANY feedback you have so I can make the next one better. PLEASE COMMENT!

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