From Venoms and Toxins to Drugs

This seminar focuses on how people have harnessed the power of naturally occurring substances for religious rituals, medicine and warfare. In the past, students have chosen areas that cover from the use of snake venom to treat leprosy (unsuccessful) to the successful use of botulinum toxin to treat Parkinson tremors, from the FDA rules for drug development to the current popular usage of unregulated herbal remedies, and from use of toxins to kill cancer cells to the eradication of  potentially therapeutic compounds as rainforests are cut for agricultural purposes. Each group presents background information on their topic, leads class discussion of a related article and prepares a group website. Each student then further develops one aspect of their group's topic into a comprehensive webresource explaining the 'social and cellular' ramifications of using their compound of choice. 

Syllabus and Course information
See below for links to Topics
Personal Webpage Assignment
Group Project Homepage Assignment
Fall 2001 (this semseter)
Individual Projects
Creating a Website

The papers listed were used in class discussion of the topic:

Discussion 1: Cancer and Black Tea Discussion 2: Nicotine and its effects on the human cardiovascular system Discussion 3: Garlic and Vasodilation Discussion 4:  PAIN
J. Lu, Ho, C-T., Ghai, G., and K.Y. Chen. (2000) Differential expression of Theaflavin Monogallates on Cell Growth, Apoptosis, and Cox-2 Gene Expression in Cancerous versus Normal Cells. Cancer Research 60: 6465-6471. Si, ML and TJ Lee. (2001) Presynaptic alpha 7 nicitinic acetylcholine receptors mediate nicotine induced nitric oxidergenic neurogenic vasodilation in porcine basilar arteries. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 298: 122-28

Pope, C. Arden et al. (2001) Acute exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and heart rate variability. Environmental Health Perspectives 109 

Seigel, G., Emden, J., and K Wenzel. (1992) Potassium activation activation in vascular smooth muscle. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 311: 53-72 Maekawa K. et al. (1999) The molecular mechanism of inhibition of interleukin-1 beta induced cyclooxygenase-2 expression in human synovial cells by Tripterygium wilfordi Hook F extract. Inflammation Research 48: 575-81

Tau, X., et al. (1998) Effects of Tripterygium wilfordi Hook F extract on induction of cyclooxygenase-2 activity and prostaglandin E2 production. Arthritis Rheum 41: 130-8.

CLASS PROJECT: The assignment: GAINING APPROVAL The process from idea to development to USDA, FDA, and public approval

    The class developed a website exploring the road from discovery to the drugstore.
Follow the development of "Wildcat Elixir" a student invented forum to present the FDA approval process in the context of a new (hypothetical) pharmaceutical.
FOR BEST VIEWING: Access the page in Internet Explorer.


Previous seminar topics and projects

Briefest guide to Powerpoint

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