Mike Brown


Lipitor patent extension for Pfizer – Patent pool for AIDS drugs set up – $1.4 billion deal for Arch Chemicals – And the biggest fertiliser plant in Africa (more…)

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Last year, I wrote a blog about guinea pig poop powering a science lab in a Peruvian village. Now UK farmers have come up with a similar plan using pig poo.

According to news reports, farmers James Hart and Jeremy Iles have devised a way of profiting from 12,000 tonnes of pig poo, in order to supplement their income. They have on their farm – Glebe Farm, in Hatherop, Gloucestershire – a biogas station. (more…)

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The association of the yew tree with death in centuries gone by has been resurrected. But now it is the death of cancer cells, not human beings, as John Mann explains in this weeks Chemistry in its element podcast

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Chemicals and lab equipment belonging to Joseph Black (1728-1799) have been unearthed in an archaeological dig at the University of Edinburgh, in the UK.

Black was a student at Edinburgh from 1752-54 and became professor of chemistry there in 1766. His main post was as a physician, but during his career, he is famed for discovering latent heat, specific heat, and carbon dioxide.

(more…)

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As part of its Summer Exhibition 2011 in London (5-10 July), the Royal Society has developed a mobile phone App about graphene – one atom thick sheets of carbon.

The App contains three games relating to graphene: ‘CVD’ Graphene, ‘Scotch Tape’ Graphene and Graphene ‘Tilt’.

If you manage to be able to play the game (my iPhone freezes when trying to run the App), you win points by fitting together carbon atoms, in a similar way to the iconic game Tetris. Players can build up sheets of graphene using ‘CVD’ and ‘Scotch Tape’ and collect them to win points. These two games relate to the two standard ways of producing graphene – chemical vapour deposition, which builds up layers from small groups of atoms, or peeling off layers from graphite, the way graphene was originally isolated (more…)

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Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Scientists in Australia have developed an ointment treatment for snakebites that should give victims much needed time to obtain medical care and anti-venom treatment.

Snakebites cause over 100,000 deaths a year worldwide. One of the problems is that more often than not, when you get bitten by a snake, you are a long way away from medical care and anti-venom treatments.

A severe reaction to an adder (Vipera berus – the UKs only poisonous snake) bite could result in death within an hour, so even in the UK there is still the need for effective first aid treatments for snake bites.

(more…)

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According to a BBC story frog and toad skin could help to cure over 70 major diseases.

We have all heard of venoms from various poisonous creatures being used to make antidotes for poisons, natural products being synthesised to make drugs and the health benefits of drinking various animal products such as milk. These are only a  few ways in which chemists use nature to find answers to scientific problems, but have you ever heard of anyone using frog skin yet?… (more…)

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PHARMACEUTICAL: Pfizer stock falls

A clinical trial assessing Pfizer’s oral drug tofacitinib as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has suffered a set-back in the form of four deaths. As a result, Pfizer shares have dropped almost four per cent.

According to Pfizer, investigators have confirmed that only one of the deaths was actually related to the drug with the patient suffering respiratory failure.

Other RA therapies on the market have also been linked to a higher risk of heart failure. So these deaths may not be a big set-back for tofacitinib, and it still may be approved for use. Indeed Pfizer is hoping that the success of tofacitinib will help overcome the loss of sales from generic competition to its top earner Lipitor. (more…)

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Chernobyl nuclear plant 25 years on

On 26 April 1986, the number four reactor at Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, formerly part of the Soviet Union, exploded.

25 years on, with Japan struggling to avert a potential nuclear disaster, Ukraine is marking the anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear accident with a commemoration ceremony to remember those that lost their lives trying to control the situation in the immediate aftermath.

The Chernobyl explosion sent a plume of radiation across Europe and released about 400 times more radiation than the US atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

Radioactive deposits were found in nearly every country in the northern hemisphere and even now there is still a 30 km exclusion zone around the plant. Areas of the UK are still affected by the disaster: farms face post-Chernobyl controls due to soil contaminated by radioactive caesium and strontium.

According to the World Health Organisation for the 600,000 people exposed to the highest levels of radiation, 4,000 more cancer deaths than average are expected. (more…)

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Melt-in-the-mouth ED treatment

Bayer Healthcare has launched the first melt-in-the-mouth erectile dysfunction (ED) treatment in the UK. The 10mg Levitra (vardenafil) tablet dissolves on the tongue without the need of water, has a minty flavour and comes in discreet packaging. (more…)

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