Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science. Show all posts

Monday, December 05, 2016

Guest post: 8 Reasons Why Kids Should Science More [Infographic]

Children doing science....

Not to sound too cringe-y but children are our future. That being said, it’s important what sort of education they get, particularly in science. Scientific method nurtures thinking skills; whether in the classroom or at home or with a group of friends, kids can come up with a simple theory and then try and prove or disprove their theory, learn from the outcome and improve their knowledge. Following this logical process supports children to think critically in other areas of study and life.
At even at its most basic level, science feeds a natural love for learning, curious children are natural explorers and science offers them plenty of hands on, fun and exciting things to explore.
Science helps children to answer questions about the world they live in by showing them how to think critically and teaching them the resilience they need to keep on questioning theories. Science doesn’t just teach kids about science, it teaches them about life and how to think independently for the rest of their lives.

So without further introduction here are 8  reasons why children should science more:

Click to enlarge the infographic!

This infographic has been created in collaboration by Marcus and Michael from Psychology and Science website.

The scientific and medical opinions expressed within guest blog posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Crystals and Catalysts (Mariam). The accuracy and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Crystals and Catalysts (Mariam) is not liable for any errors or representations.

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Friday, December 02, 2016

One Paragraph on Brexit and Science

It’s a time of uncertainty. Ever since the vote for Brexit happened science in the UK has been affected and that’s certainly no secret.  Although Britain is not completely out of the European Union yet, there are a few disturbances which have started to show ever since the results were released. The main consequence was the “burning of the bridges” - the relationship between the UK and the EU has been severed so that scientists in the EU do not feel welcome to collaborating with scientists in the UK. Brexit has even affected the quantity of international students who applied to study in higher education in the U.K this year, with many international students pulling out their places from UK universities after the Brexit vote, leaving many gaps unfilled.  This shouldn’t be a time where collaborating over research becomes a difficult task says Martin Rees in Nature’s micro article. Convinced that independent research councils work better than governmental agencies; he also recommends that a start for solution, needs a “senior independent voice in Whitehall by reviving the post of Director-General of Research Councils, supported by a strong advisory board.” Also, there are talks as to who should be the voice of science in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. There’s no way to disconnect science from politics so we’ll just have to work with it and have the scientific voice heard.

Special thanks to Frits Ahlefeldt for the caricature from

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Meat, Veganism and Science

Today’s post isn’t going to be a “pro-veganism” rant or anything like that. I’m aiming to provide a balanced overview on meat-eating. This post is going to be looking at meats, their pro’s and con’s and the recent research spreading around them and also veganism and I’ll leave the decision to which option could potentially be the best for your health, to you, the reader.


Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc and B vitamins. It is also one of the main sources of vitamin B12. It’s recommended that we try to eat lean cuts of meat and skinless poultry whenever possible to cut down on fat and also always cook meat thoroughly.

Proteins are complex substances, made up of chains of amino acids. Amino acids are building blocks that combine in different formations to make up the proteins in your body. There are 20 amino acids in total – your body can create some of these itself, but there are nine essential amino acids that you can only get from protein that you eat. After you eat protein, it’s broken down in the body into amino acids.  They are then transported in the bloodstream, where they’re rearranged into new proteins that are required for the healthy growth of all of our body tissues, such as your muscles (including your heart), internal organs (such as your lungs and liver) and skin.  Also, proteins are a great source of energy.


Saturated fats, found in meat, can block the absorption of essential fats which are important for maintaining cell structure. An increase in saturated fats in the body can cause cells to become more rigid and affect the flow of nutrients in and out of the cells.

Furthermore, if you eat a lot of red and processed meat, it is recommended that you cut down as there is likely to be a link between red and processed meat and bowel cancer. This has been proven in research published in the recent years and has been making news headlines as of late.

The Research...

The first piece of research has found that diets high in meat may lead to an increased risk of developing renal cell carcinoma (RCC) through the intake of carcinogenic compounds created by specific cooking techniques, such as barbecuing and pan-frying. The kidney is a biochemically active organ which is responsible for filtering many harmful toxins from the body, s it was essential to investigate the effects of dietary intake, including carcinogens, on kidney cancer risk.

A potential theory for the cause could be ingestion of meat-cooking mutagens, harmful compounds created when the meat is cooked in a certain way. Cooking meat at high temperatures or over an open flame, such as when barbecuing or pan-frying, is known to result in the formation of carcinogens, including 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenyl-imidazo(4,5-b) pyridine (PhIP) and amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo(4,5-f) quinoxaline (MeIQx).

However, the researchers don’t suggest that people should remove meats entirely from their diets, but rather consume it in moderation, as part of a well-balanced diet, complete with fruits and vegetables. They also advised that: when grilling or pan-frying meat, to try to avoid charring it as much as possible.

Studies on cancer risks of  different types of meat

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has evaluated the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat.

Red meat.

The IARC classified the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A), based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect. This association was observed mainly for colorectal cancer, but associations were also seen for pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

Processed meats.

Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer. The experts concluded that each 50g portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.

Overall effects of meat consumption.

The IARC working group considered more than 800 studies that investigated associations of more than a dozen types of cancer with the consumption of red meat or processed meat in many countries and populations with diverse diets. The most prominent evidence came from big prospective cohort studies conducted over the past 20 years.

"These findings further support current public health recommendations to limit intake of meat," says Dr. Christopher Wild, director of IARC. "At the same time, red meat has nutritional value. Therefore, these results are important in enabling governments and international regulatory agencies to conduct risk assessments, in order to balance the risks and benefits of eating red meat and processed meat and to provide the best possible dietary recommendations."

On how meat-eaters defend their eating habits...

Researchers have found that meat eaters who justify their eating habits feel less guilty and are more tolerant of social inequality say, researchers. They found that the vast majority of omnivores defend consuming animals by rationalizing their behaviour using one of four rationalizations, which they call the 4Ns.

Typical comments used to justify eating meat include these 4Ns:

  1. Natural "Humans are natural carnivores"
  2. Necessary "Meat provides essential nutrients"
  3. Normal "I was raised eating meat"
  4. Nice "It's delicious"

Since veganism and vegetarianism are perceived to be the  healthiest lifestyle to live. More and more people are cutting out meats and animal produce in order to have a plant based diet.

In addition to weight loss, a vegan low-carbohydrate diet may also reduce the risk of heart disease by 10 percent over 10 years, researchers have demonstrated for the first time. The diet is a low-carbohydrate vegan diet. A lot of low-carbohydrate diets have been able to improve weight loss, but most highlight eating animal proteins and fats, which can raise body cholesterol levels. A diet that is high in vegetable proteins and oils may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering "bad cholesterol" levels in the body.

Finally, although some meats can cause cancer it's also beneficial to not completely cut out meat and other animal produce from the body because they do have some beneficial nutrients that are essential to the body. Even if some of the nutrients can be sought via other means, vitamin B12 is an essential one which can be found in  meat, eggs and milk. This brings us back to the saying "everything in moderation is good".


[3] Stephanie C. Melkonian, Carrie R. Daniel, Yuanqing Ye, Nizar M. Tannir, Jose A. Karam, Surena F. Matin, Christopher G. Wood, Xifeng Wu.Gene-environment interaction of genome-wide association study-identified susceptibility loci and meat-cooking mutagens in the etiology of renal cell carcinoma. Cancer, 2015; DOI:10.1002/cncr.29543

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Increased meat consumption, especially when cooked at high temperatures, linked to elevated kidney cancer risk: Individuals with certain genetic variations more vulnerable to dietary risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 November 2015. <>.

[4] VĂ©ronique Bouvard, Dana Loomis, Kathryn Z Guyton, Yann Grosse, Fatiha El Ghissassi, Lamia Benbrahim-Tallaa, Neela Guha, Heidi Mattock, Kurt Straif, International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group. Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat. The Lancet Oncology, 2015 (in press) DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(15)00444-1

World Health Organization. "Processed meat can cause cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 October 2015. <>.

[5] Jared Piazza, Matthew B. Ruby, Steve Loughnan, Mischel Luong, Juliana Kulik, Hanne M. Watkins, Mirra Seigerman. Rationalizing meat consumption. The 4Ns. Appetite, 2015; 91: 114 DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.04.011
Lancaster University. "How people defend eating meat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 May 2015. <>.

[6] St. Michael's Hospital. "Low-carb vegan diet may reduce heart disease risk, weight." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2014. <>.

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Monday, November 09, 2015

One Paragraph on Eye drops for Cataracts | One Paragraph Science

Cataracts are primarily a disease of ageing. Instead of an operating to remove them, researchers are trying to make a cataract-dissolving-eye drops which can break down cataracts and restore transparency of the lens and vision.  Cataracts can be successfully removed with surgery, but this method is costly, and most individuals blinded by severe cataracts in developing countries go untreated. A characteristic of the condition is the mis-folding and clumping together of crucial proteins known as crystallins. So that our lenses are able to function well, crystallins (which we are born and live our whole lives with) must maintain both the transparency of fibre cells and their flexibility as the eyes' muscles constantly stretch and relax the lens to allow us to focus on objects at different distances.  Scientists at the University of California San Francisco exploited a key difference between correctly folded crystallins and their amyloid forms; finding that amyloids are much harder to dissolve. After researching over 2450 compounds and reducing them down to 12 they finally came to find, what they named, Compound 29. Compound 29 is both dissolvable in solution (so can be given in eye drops) and has the ability to dissolve amyloids that had already been formed. Results were observed when Compound 29 eye drops were applied in mice that naturally developed age-related cataracts, and also when the compound was applied to human lens tissue affected by cataracts that had been removed during surgery. This technique will also be a great benefit to dogs that are also prone to developing cataracts as they grow old. Besides Compound 29's potential for cataract treatment, the insights gained through the research could have broader applications, especially in neurodegenerative disorders. 

References: [1]

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

What's in your Pumpkin Spice Latte? ( + A Recipe!)

Autumn is easing its way in and the leaves are turning orange and brown hues and the pumpkin spice latte is making a major comeback. So surely everyone is starting to feel it's autumn now.  The PSL is now the official symbol of autumn - forget the weather or the leaves changing colour.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Image
Anybody who has tried the PSL and tasted it knows that it doesn’t even taste of pumpkin, nor does it have any of its nutritional benefits.  A cooked, mashed cup of it has most, if not all of your daily vitamin A and a significant percentage of both your daily potassium and fibre. Recently, the autumnal drink has been in the news for its recipe, which doesn't include real pumpkin or real, natural flavours. All flavours are replaced with chemicals which make up the flavouring. The caffeinated drink now has pumpkin included in it as of this year, part of the recipe.  

Did the word “chemicals” scare you? Well, it shouldn’t. But thanks to a certain group of people, chemicals have been turned from something normal into something scary and could potentially harm our health, when in actual fact some chemicals are pretty harmless. Now let’s get back to our original topic: the chemicals in the pumpkin spice latte.

The new commercial recipe for this year is:
  • Espresso
  • Milk
  • Pumpkin Spice Flavoured Sauce (Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Pumpkin Puree, Contains 2% or Less of Fruit and Vegetable Juice for Colour, Natural Flavours, Annatto [Colour], Potassium Sorbate [Preservative], Salt)
  • Whipped Cream (Light Whipping Cream [Cream, Mono and Diglycerides, Carrageenan])
  • Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavours, Potassium Sorbate [Preservative], Citric Acid)
  • Pumpkin Spice Topping (Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove).

After finding out the new recipe for the infamous PSL – we can find out what chemicals go into the famous pumpkin spice sauce that makes up the taste of autumn...
Chemicals in the Pumpkin Spice Flavoured Sauce:

  • This chemical is widely found in sports drinks and ready-to-drink protein shakes
  • It’s used as a thickener and is used to improve the texture of products
  • Carrageenan has been proven to be safe for use in food (and even in baby formula).
  • Carrageenan was incorrectly mistaken for the carcinogen: Polygeenan. Although their names are similar they are two completely different compounds with different purposes.  

Natural flavours

"Natural flavors in the United States are defined in 21CFR 101.22, as “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”  “Natural Flavors Hit the Label” 

  • Is an orange-red food colouring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree.
  • Its scent is described as "slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg" and flavour as "slightly nutty, sweet and peppery".[1]

Potassium sorbate
  • Potassium sorbate is a food preservative which has been used for many years.
  • Its E number is 202
  • Loads of tests have been conducted on this compound and have confirmed its safety for use in food.
  • However, there have been reports that some people may be allergic to potassium sorbate.

Citric acid
  • Is a natural preservative which can be found widely in citrus fruits.
  • Citric acid is also be added an acidic / sour taste to foods.

Vanillin and vanillin flavour
  • Artificial and natural vanilla flavours are used widely in food, derived from the pheonolic family.
  • Natural powdered vanillin is expensive compared to artificial vanillin plus artificial flavours last longer.
  • The purpose of artificial flavours is to deliver the sensory impression of a food or beverage product; note the official definition for NATURAL FLAVOUR.

Why do we need all these chemicals?
The coffee sauce flavouring is designed to taste just like cooked pumpkin spice: a blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. The aim isn’t to taste like pumpkin but more of the spice(s).  The coffee company have used the minimum number of compounds they need to reach their signature flavour.  These chemicals are essential because it’s not sustainable to harvest the vast amounts of ginger, cinnamon, or cloves needed to match our (the consumers) appetite for pumpkin spice lattes.
If there’s one thing to be worried about, it’s the copious amounts of sugar (in total 49 grams!!) in this drink. Everyone has to take care of what goes into their body. And always remember that everything in MODERATION is good. 


Since I’ve said the word pumpkin spice latte a million times in this post, you’re probably craving one right now so here’s a recipe which makes 2 mugs of PSL...

  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or half a vanilla bean
  • 2 cups full cream milk
  • 1/4 cup or espresso or strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin or homemade pumpkin puree (Here’s a simple recipe )
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or use a whipped cream packet (Optional)

Here’s how to make homemade PSL:

If you would like whipped heavy cream until stiff peaks form or prepare your whipped cream packet according to package instructions and set aside (Optional)
  • Begin by making your espresso and split it between two mugs
  • Next, cook your pumpkin puree along with your ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a small saucepan over medium heat then add the sugar, stirring until the mixture turns into a syrupy consistency.
  • Add the milk to the mixture and warm over medium-low heat, then stir in your vanilla. Put your warmed milk mixture in the blender and blend until frothy.
  • Finally, add the milk mixture to your coffee and top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.

IMAGES [1] [2] REFERENCES: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

5 Health Myths Everyone Follows Today: Corrected! | In Arabic

In this past year, my blog has been seen internationally in countries I would have never even dreamed of being seen in (which I think is absolutely amazing). My first priority for this blog is to ensure that everyone enjoys reading my new posts and understands them really well. I even have a google translate button in the sidebar. But as we all know, sometimes (or more often than not) google translate doesn’t always correctly translate text in the ways its supposed to be.
I'd like to thank a really good friend of mine, who has offered to translate one of my blog posts in Arabic so that my blog could reach more corners of the earth.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Using Robots to Study Host-Microbiome Interactions

Journal: Exploring Host-Microbiome Interactions using an in Silico Model of biomimetic robots and engineered living cells – Published in Scientific Reports.

Dr’s : Heyde and Ruder
Funded by: National science Foundation, USA

Understanding the human body is vital to understanding how the body works and how drugs can interact with the body. Microbiomes play an important role in the regulation of the behaviour and health of its host (which could be the human body or part of it).

Within this new piece of research, scientists have prepared an in silico model of a living microbiome, engineered with synthetic biology, which interfaces with a biomimetic, robotic host. They used this technique to copy complex behaviours in the host giving larger understandings of the exploration of inter-kingdom ecological relationships. 

The researchers studied two different topologies of information flow, critical for host-microbiome interactions to help us understand biochemical interactions. The way the synthetic gene circuits, allows the exploration of genetic pathways and relationships in a single organism. This in silico system works as a tool, used to augment and examine the interconnected network hat drive host-microbiome interactions.

Things they studied:
·         Host alteration between nutrient sources : (e.g lactose, arabinose and carbon depots)
·         Using the changes in nutrient sources to prescribe a range of robot behaviours.

The scientists expect that this model system will have implications in fields ranging from synthetic biology and ecology to mobile robotics. Heyde and Ruder also believe that their model system provide a useful system for exploring host-microbiome interactions with synthetic biology. 

Inforgraphic: Click to enlarge.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Weekly Science News Brief 4 - 30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 28)

This weeks science news: understanding speech and sleep, fatty diets that harm the brain, fake pills, restricting antibiotics and asthma caused by pollution.

Click to enlarge image!

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Weeky Science News Brief Week 3 - 30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 21)

This weeks science news includes: More reasons to love chocolate, ways to reverse colorectal cancer and also heart damage, and why watching cat videos are good for you!

Click to enlarge image!

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Weekly Science News Brief - 30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 14)

This weeks science news: how being creative may make you prone to certain psychological disorders; sleeping brain cells, and killer nanoparticles.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Favourite Science Book : 30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 10)

A book I have read and has become of my favourite science books is Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre. It is a nonfiction book which has been translated into 25 languages.

Although this is not a book to necessarily enjoy, it's to be read and receive the message that Goldacre intends to pass onto the reader. The book has a solemn tone but Goldacre is also able to maintain a good, conversational tone and keep the reader interested and intrigued to read more.

Goldacre also gives all references to everything he states in Bad Pharma so the reader knows where each piece of information he quotes came from. Therefore the book and all it contains comes across as very reliable. 

Bad Pharma is extremely detailed and gives a fascinating insight into the pharmaceutical industry. It's simple and easy to read, especially if you are interested in the pharmaceutical industry, and does not require any previous study of science or medicine in general.

Goldacre does not make the book feel like it contains any "conspiracy theories". He also explains the different issues in the pharmaceutical industry, in detail and also giving references (particularly the systematic reviews, which is important knowing the subject matter of the book ). The aim of Bad Pharma is to not delve into politics, but to concentrate on real problems of the "drug companies and how they mislead doctors & harm patients".

Although the book portrays the giant size of the problems Goldacre is detailing, he makes sure the book does not leave the reader feeling depressed. Goldacre is not "anti-pharma" and he has considered very carefully how things could actually be changed in practice, in the future.

Bad Pharma is definitely a great book and a rewarding read. Even if you're not a healthcare professional, you may be able to contribute to solving these problems by raising awareness.

If the book could be summarised into a 15 word review it would be this quote, by Dara O Brian: 
"Terrifying & true. You may never look at your medicine cabinet the same way again."

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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Favourite Science Quote: 30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 9)

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."

- Marie Curie 

I personally love this quote because it encourages everyone to learn. Just because you've stopped studying doesn't mean you should stop learning. You can learn new things in different ways, and the more you learn the more you understand the world around you. 

I see science communication as a means of getting people who may not know a lot about science to understand it more. 

Science communication is a great way to communicate science with everyone with the latest advances of science and also a way of diminishing any myths or misunderstandings people may have about science and health. 

<<Click here to find out more about Marie Curie>>

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Saturday, June 06, 2015

The Future Blogging goals: 30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 6)

Crystals and Catalysts was launched in August 2014 which makes it almost 1 years old! 

I think everyone who starts a blog thinks that they'll be lucky if they even get 10 readers in a day. And that's what I thought when I first started writing and creating this blog. 

My future goals for my blog:

  1. I hope to make more infographics for my posts  
  2. Find a more effective blog theme which is  more user friendly
  3. Complete the 30 day challenge without missing a day
  4. Aim to reach 1 million page views by the end of this year
  5. Aim to post more in a week

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Friday, June 05, 2015

The Future Goals: 30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 5)

When someone asks me where do you see yourself in 10 years, I have to take a minute to actually think about the future. 
I prefer to focus on the present and planning the present and leaving the future to fall into place. However with that being said, I aspire to pursue a career in science writing.   
Science writing is away of communicating science in ways to everyone no matter what their educational background is. Even though I love lab research and conducting my own research project, I love science communication & journalism even more and I hope that one day I'll be writing for a large and respectable science magazine such as Chemistry World / Nature / New Scientist. 

What are your plans for the future? Comment below...

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Thursday, June 04, 2015

The University Project - 30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 4)

This post is different because I wont be discussing someone else's research, I am discussing my own research. My final year project at university. 

What was my project about?

The Synthesis of a derivative of Montiporyne E. The aim of the project was to find a simple, fast and effective method of reactions to produce a derivative of Montiporyne E potential anti-cancer drug.

Cancer is caused when cells replicate abnormally and rapidly to form tumours. This is because the cell does not undergo apoptosis (the normal programmed cell death) and therefore these affected cells continue to multiply uncontrollably. 

Montiporyne E is derived from a hard coral, named Montipora SpHard corals have been found to produce cytotoxic, acetylenic compounds. It is used in the treatments of solid tumour cells. The extraction from hard coral is expensive, laborious and also hard coral is on the verge of extinction, therefore a more effective method of production was required.
Montiporyne E
The reaction scheme for the production of the derivative of Montiporyne E

My Step-By-Step Method:

Step 1 :

  1. • 3-ethoxy-2 cylohexone was dissolved in THF and Grignard reagent was added dropwise, in a nitrogen atmosphere and continuous stirring for 30 minutes.

Step 2 - The Oxime Reaction:

  1. •3-methyl- 2 cyclohexenone (product from step 1), hydroxylamine hydrochloride and sodium hydroxide were added in a round bottomed flask and stirred for 1 and a half to 2 hours.
  2. • The product was then extracted using diethyl ether and then neutralised with Glacial acetic acid
  3. • This was then dried with Magnesium sulphate and further dried on a rotary evaporator.

    Step 3 - The Beckmann rearrangement - Ring expansion (from a 6 -7 membered ring)

  1.       The oxime (from step 2), was added to toluene in a two necked Round Bottomed Flask with a magnetic stirrer and attached to condenser and heated to 90°C.
  2.       Chlorosulfonic acid was added dropwise to the mixture.
  3.       The reaction was left stirring for half an hour then cooled to room temperature. 
  4.       After the mixture cooled, Sodium hydroxide (—NaOH) was added to the mixture, dropwise to neutralise the product. 

Step 1: Production of 3-methyl-2-cyclohexanone

Step 2: Oxime reaction
Step 3: Beckmann Rearrangement 

What would I have done differently ?

In the beginning of my project I found out that if I was successful in finishing the project on time, I could have an opportunity to test my final product on cells (in the biology labs) to test my product for its cytotoxicity. So my goal for the whole year was based around making the final product.  Unfortunately I couldn't test it in the biology labs because there was an earlier deadline for application.

It would have been better if I had more time dedicated to the project so I could have focused on each of the separate reactions to find one that gave the best yield and better method of purification. 

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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

What I Studied at University- 30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 3)

At university I studied Medicinal Chemistry.

Medicinal chemistry is the discipline at the intersection of chemistry, especially synthetic organic chemistry, and pharmacology and various other biological specialities, where they are involved with designchemical synthesis and development for market of pharmaceutical agents, or bio-active molecules (drugs).

So what does the course involve?
Medicinal chemistry gives you the opportunity to study a mix between biology and chemistry related courses. So the year is split between eight courses about two-thirds chemistry related and one-third pharma related. 

Why did you choose this course?
When I was completing my A levels. I had never ever heard of Medicinal Chemistry. My main goal was to complete my A levels and get onto a  pharmacy course at university. During my A levels I did work experience at Boots Pharmacy , where I realised that I simply didn't like working in a pharmacy as much as I had imagined it when I was younger. I went on another internet search to find another course. On a random day at college I overheard (I wasn't eves dropping I swear! ha ha) between a fellow colleague and our teacher about choosing the course: Medicinal Chemistry. I fell in love with it the minute I read about it and I applied for it straight away.

How is the course taught?
It has a very good mix of taught modules and practical sessions. Most of the taught modules also included practical sessions to back up what was taught in the lecture. One of the taught modules taught Computer Aided Drug Design (CADD) which introduced me to a new side of drug design and chemistry technology.  

Is there a project?
Yes, it lasted over two semester of my final year. I was working in the lab, focusing on producing a derivative of Montiporyne E- an anti-cancer drug derived from hard coral.

What do you like best about the course?
I love working in the lab, so the lab project is the best part for me. It's really tough because a lot of the time your experiments don't work, but the support network is great and my supervisor was good.

And what is the most difficult thing about it?
It's difficult to juggle equal amounts of time between the lab and the course modules, particularly in final year. I spent a lot of time running between the lab and lectures – but in a way, that made things more exciting too.

Will it set you up well for the future?
Yes.  It gives you a background in organic chemistry whilst also giving you  a background in pharmacology, and other pharmaceutical related areas so you can be prepared to research new drugs to combat serious health conditions such as cancer, AIDS and bacteria and viruses. Medicinal Chemistry also does not restrict the career you want to follow after completing your Bsc.

What qualities do you need to do the course?
You need to have a passion for science (biology and chemistry in particular), and if you're keen on doing research into drug structure & design, this could be the perfect course for you. You just need the commitment and the passion.

What did you study at university / think of studying at university? Comment below! 


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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The Reason Behind the Blog Name - 30 Day Science Blog Challenge (Day 2)

Every blog name/title has a story behind it; some maybe more interesting than others. 

After I decided that I wanted to start a science website, I had to choose a name. At the time, I had hopes that my blog would be more chemistry driven but I also chose a title that is mixed - just like Medicinal Chemistry (what I did my Bsc in).  

A couple of ideas I had for my blog name were:

  • protons & pyrimidines
  • neutrons & nucleotides
  • electrons & enzymes
  • as sweet as glucose
  • sweeter than glucose
  • chemistry crystals
  • crystals of chemistry
  • and finally: crystals & catalysts

The name Crystals and Catalysts was derived from two things: Crystals, from the most common product chemists make in the laboratory and also the most intriguing, and Catalysts are the substances that encourage reactions to happen. 

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Monday, June 01, 2015

30 Day Science Blog Challenge (Day 1)

There are so many challenges similar to this for other niches of blogs, but not for science blogs. So I have decided to make one for science bloggers. The aim of the 30-day challenge is to post every day for the next 30 days with the topics given in the infographic below. They are light, fun topics where you'll be able to get to know me more and more about my blog and other thoughts too.

So I am starting the 30-day science blogging challenge as of 1st June 2015 till 30th June 2015! I will be posting 30 days & on each day there will be a different topic.  

If you're a science blogger or thinking of becoming one then join the challenge!

Click to enlarge!

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