Murder, magic and medicine
Do you ever stop to wonder where the pills that so many of us take come from? If so, why not come along to a public lecture to be given by John Mann, Professor of Biological Chemistry at Queen’s University Belfast, on Wednesday 21 May.
It looks set to reveal dark and intriguing facts about the evolution of modern medical drugs as we know them today!
“Human cultures have always been fascinated by plant and animal products that were poisonous or altered their perception of the World”, states Professor Mann. He added, “These interesting properties encouraged experimentation which led to the identification of other natural products with useful medicinal activities. In more recent times, many of the active ingredients of these crude extracts have been isolated, characterised and evaluated for their pharmacological activity. More than half of our medicines have resulted from studies of this kind and so can trace their origins to earlier folk use as adjuncts to murder, magic and medicine”.
In his talk, Professor Mann will provide an overview of the evolution of drugs from the crude extracts used by 'primitive' cultures.
Several important examples will be highlighted:
- the development of the neuromuscular blocking agent tubocurarine from the arrow poison curare;
- the link between the psychedelic effects of LSD and the development of the new migraine drug Sumatriptan;
- the evolution of the anti-asthma drug Ventolin from the Chinese preparation ma huang;
- extracts of willow, the discovery of aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs, and their links with the prostaglandins;
- the evolution of the antibiotics from the original chance discoveries made by Fleming in 1928;
- anti-cancer drugs including taxol and tamoxifen (Novaldex); and
- the future for gene therapy.
The lecture, to take place at 5pm in the David Keir Building (LG34), Stranmillis Road, will be colourfully illustrated with many amusing asides about witchcraft, Fly Agaric, early surgery and more!
Supporting Partners: None
Hosting School / Unit: School of Chemistry
Target Audience: The general public and sixthformers - the level of science can be adjusted accordingly. It would be especially suitable for people like GPs, nurses and other hospital staff, and for careers teachers who wanted to know the differnce between a Pharmacist and a Chemist!
Start Date - End Date: Sept-June
Name: Prof John Mann
Address: School of Chemistry
Telephone: 028 9033 5418
Address: Communications Office
Telephone: 028 9033 5320