Terra Sigillata

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21 posts · 31,454 views

Discusses discoveries and trends in natural product pharmacology (botanical supplements, OTCs, and prescription drugs), drug safety, and academic career development in the biomedical sciences.

David J Kroll
21 posts

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  • November 14, 2011
  • 07:02 AM
  • 501 views

K2 Synthetic Marijuana: Heart Attacks, Suicides, and Surveillance

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

Sixteen-year-old boys having heart attacks. Blog reports of deaths and suicides. And a little known chemistry and public health resource mobilized to identify “legal highs.” The chemical and biological phenomenon that is “synthetic marijuana” continued to develop over the last week as we learn more about these products from the medical and public health communities. [...]... Read more »

  • May 11, 2011
  • 08:02 AM
  • 1,100 views

Fingolimod (Gilenya; Novartis) for Multiple Sclerosis

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

A very well-written review of an orally-active drug for multiple sclerosis has just appeared in the April 25th issue of the Journal of Natural Products, a publication of ACS in conjunction with the American Society of Pharmacognosy. The review, Fingolimod (FTY720): A Recently Approved Multiple Sclerosis Drug Based on a Fungal Secondary Metabolite, is co-authored [...]... Read more »

  • March 21, 2011
  • 07:56 AM
  • 1,271 views

Molecular Target for Thunder God Vine

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

This post appeared originally last Friday for my monthly gig at Science-Based Medicine. Thunder god vine may not be a useful herbal medicine but the compounds isolated from it are fascinating – if not as medicines, then most certainly as laboratory tools. Nature Chemical Biology recently published an article where a research team from Johns [...]... Read more »

Titov, D., Gilman, B., He, Q., Bhat, S., Low, W., Dang, Y., Smeaton, M., Demain, A., Miller, P., Kugel, J.... (2011) XPB, a subunit of TFIIH, is a target of the natural product triptolide. Nature Chemical Biology, 7(3), 182-188. DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.522  

  • December 12, 2010
  • 10:41 PM
  • 910 views

Not Miley Cyrus: A small human trial of salvinorin A

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

Some interesting news came out last week regarding Salvia divinorum, the hallucinogenic mint plant, whose primary active constituent, salvinorin A, is a highly selective kappa opioid receptor agonist that is remarkable as a nonnitrogenous psychoactive compound. However, my interest had nothing to do with the widely-discussed video at TMZ.com showing actress and singer-songwriter Miley Cyrus doing a [...]... Read more »

  • October 14, 2010
  • 08:14 AM
  • 853 views

BMJ meta-analysis: Reboxetine “an ineffective and potentially harmful antidepressant”

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

Thanks to Ben Goldacre and Vaughan Bell, I learned this morning of an interesting paper in British Medical Journal that analyzed substantial unpublished data from Pfizer on their norephinephrine reuptake inhibitor antidepressant, reboxetine. Sold in Europe as a pair of enantiomers under the trade name Edronax, reboxetine’s US application was rejected by the FDA in [...]... Read more »

  • September 7, 2010
  • 07:06 AM
  • 830 views

What’s the buzz?: Synthetic marijuana, K2, Spice, JWH-018

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

The topic of one of our most popular posts of all time has been the synthetic marijuana products containing JWH compounds, naphthoylindole cannabimimetics synthesized in the 1990s in the Clemson University laboratory of John Huffman. This post first appeared at the ScienceBlogs home of Terra Sigillata on 9 Feb 2010 and gives you some background [...]... Read more »

Aung MM, Griffin G, Huffman JW, Wu M, Keel C, Yang B, Showalter VM, Abood ME, & Martin BR. (2000) Influence of the N-1 alkyl chain length of cannabimimetic indoles upon CB(1) and CB(2) receptor binding. Drug and alcohol dependence, 60(2), 133-40. PMID: 10940540  

  • June 18, 2010
  • 09:02 AM
  • 1,298 views

HBCU medical schools at Morehouse, Meharry, and Howard lead "social mission" metric - Annals of Internal Medicine

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

Reuters Health Executive Editor and proprietor of the excellent Embargo Watch blog, Ivan Oransky, was kind to alert me to this topical paper that appeared in Monday's issue of Annals of Internal Medicine entitled, The Social Mission of Medical Education: Ranking the Schools.

To the credit of the Annals, the full text of the primary article is currently free. An accompanying editorial is behind the subscription wall.

The study was conducted led by Fitzhugh Mullan with Candice Chen, MD, Gretchen........ Read more »

Mullan F, Chen C, Petterson S, Kolsky G, & Spagnola M. (2010) The social mission of medical education: ranking the schools. Annals of internal medicine, 152(12), 804-11. PMID: 20547907  

  • March 16, 2010
  • 11:02 PM
  • 1,268 views

What's the difference between HeLa and HeLa S3 cells? Part III: Theodore "Ted" Puck, MD, and the first clonal isolation of human tumor cells

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata


This post is the third in a series on the origin and history of HeLa S3 cells. The first post details how I came about to ask this question when launching my independent research laboratory. The second post details the life and careers of the legendary physician-scientist pioneer, Dr. Florence Rena Sabin.



Today, we take up a discussion where we will finally learn the origin of HeLa S3 cells, complete with original literature citations.

A recap
We left our previous discussion with the final ........ Read more »

  • February 9, 2010
  • 09:02 PM
  • 1,525 views

What's the buzz?: Synthetic marijuana, K2, Spice, JWH-018

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

My field of natural products pharmacology was founded by indigenous cultures who recognized that plants and fungi contain compounds that produce altered states of consciousness, leading to their most common use in religious ceremonies. While we may most often associate these naturally-occurring drugs with hallucinogens, the arguably most common natural product in use today is marijuana or Cannabis sativa. Indigenous to India and China, Cannabis has been the subject of increasing decriminalizati........ Read more »

Aung MM, Griffin G, Huffman JW, Wu M, Keel C, Yang B, Showalter VM, Abood ME, & Martin BR. (2000) Influence of the N-1 alkyl chain length of cannabimimetic indoles upon CB(1) and CB(2) receptor binding. Drug and alcohol dependence, 60(2), 133-40. PMID: 10940540  

  • December 4, 2009
  • 06:02 PM
  • 1,525 views

How to report in vitro cancer studies: maitake mushroom extract doesn't "fight cancer"

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

Earlier this week, I saw one of the best treatments of a misinterpreted story that has me thinking about how all news outlets should report in vitro laboratory studies.

Only thing is that it didn't come from a news outlet.

It came a brainwashing site run by those medical socialist types - I am, of course, speaking of the UK National Health Service and their excellent patient education website, NHS Choices.

You may recall reading in the popular dead-tree or online press that investigators from........ Read more »

  • October 19, 2009
  • 01:43 PM
  • 1,762 views

Dietary supplement adulteration with prescription drugs: Is it really a problem of DSHEA?

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

Rebecca Skloot, journalist, University of Memphis writing professor, and author of the upcoming book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (pre-order here), just brought to my attention this commentary by Dr Pieter Cohen in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled, "American Roulette -- Contaminated Dietary Supplements."

In the commentary, Dr Cohen remarks upon the epidemic of adulteration of herbal and non-herbal dietary supplements with undeclared prescription drugs or unapproved drugs:
I........ Read more »

Cohen, P. (2009) American Roulette -- Contaminated Dietary Supplements. New England Journal of Medicine, 361(16), 1523-1525. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp0904768  

  • October 2, 2009
  • 07:02 PM
  • 1,637 views

Destigmatizing depression among medical (and graduate) trainees

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

The Clinical and Translational Science Network (CTSciNet) section of Science Careers has just published a superb article by Karyn Hede on the issues of depression precipitated during the rigors of medical education. Hede is a freelance writer in Chapel Hill and has contributed before to Science Careers, particularly with this article on the challenges of women MD-PhDs and another on why so many of us have crappy interpersonal and lab management skills.

The current article focuses primarily on t........ Read more »

  • June 14, 2009
  • 11:41 AM
  • 1,949 views

Sage advice?: NC to join 13 states in outlawing Salvia divinorum

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

Salvia divinorum (Salvia, Magic Mint) is a plant used for entheogenic purposes by the Mazatec people of Mexico. A relative of the common garden plant "scarlet sage" (Salvia splendens), S. divinorum contains several hallucinogens that include salvinorin A, the first non-nitrogenous agonist known for kappa opioid receptors (KOR).

I had known of salvinorin A since a highly-cited 2002 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper by Bryan Roth, Richard Rothman and colleagues (full text her........ Read more »

  • February 23, 2009
  • 12:02 PM
  • 1,963 views

Entheogen and hallucinogen, N,N'-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), identified as endogenous ligand for sigma-1 receptors

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

Thanks to Dave Munger & Co's ResearchBlogging.org, I just found a fabulous neuroscience grad student blogger from Emory University: Laura E Mariani at Neurotypical?

Doctor-to-be Mariani blogged last Monday about a paper in Science where the endogenous ligand of the orphan sigma-1 receptor was identified as the hallucinogen, N,N'-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT. The work originated with the group of Arnold Ruoho and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin's Depts of Pharmacology and Physiology, t........ Read more »

D. Fontanilla, M. Johannessen, A. R. Hajipour, N. V. Cozzi, M. B. Jackson, & A. E. Ruoho. (2009) The Hallucinogen N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) Is an Endogenous Sigma-1 Receptor Regulator. Science, 323(5916), 934-937. DOI: 10.1126/science.1166127  

  • December 2, 2008
  • 08:08 AM
  • 2,114 views

Chris Patil (ouroboros) on the Campisi lab's new PLoS Biology paper: cellular senescence, protein secretion, and the aging/cancer paradox

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

I've kept a passing interest in senescence (cellular, not personal) over the last 20 years or so because I've always felt that attempts to increase longevity in a multicellular organism would also increase the risk of cancer (more seasoned readers may recognize this as the Hayflick phenomenon of replicative cellular senescence first identified in 1965). As a newly-minted PhD looking for postdoc fellowship, including in a yeast lab focused on aging, I thought that harnessing the senescence pathw........ Read more »

Jean-Philippe Coppé, Christopher K. Patil, Francis Rodier, Yu Sun, Denise P. Muñoz, Joshua Goldstein, Peter S. Nelson, Pierre-Yves Desprez, & Judith Campisi. (2008) Senescence-Associated Secretory Phenotypes Reveal Cell-Nonautonomous Functions of Oncogenic RAS and the p53 Tumor Suppressor. PLoS Biology, 6(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060301  

  • October 24, 2008
  • 03:55 PM
  • 1,947 views

Missed opportunity: how many of the placebos "prescribed" were herbal or non-botanical dietary supplements?

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

"Prescribing 'placebo treatments': results of national survey of US internists and rheumatologists," is the title of a newly-published article in the 23 October issue of BMJ (British Medical Journal). The full text article and PDF are available for free at the time of this posting.

In this study of 679 US physicians, Tilbert et al. reveal that 46-58% of those responding report regularly using some sort of placebo in their practice. The reason for the range is that questions were asked in a man........ Read more »

  • August 13, 2008
  • 09:02 AM
  • 1,908 views

Methadone for cancer (no) and cancer pain (yes)

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

Most people know of methadone as a long-term substitution therapy for people addicted to heroin, morphine, or other similar drugs called opiates or opioids. A good, free full-text description of methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) can be found in the 15 June 2001 issue of American Family Physician.

Now, in the 1 August 2008 issue of Cancer Research, Claudia Friesen and colleagues at the University of Ulm report that methadone can kill leukemia cells in culture and reverse acquired resistance t........ Read more »

  • April 12, 2008
  • 11:01 AM
  • 1,956 views

"You got lead in my marijuana. . ."

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

". . .you got marijuana in my lead."

Two great tastes that do not go great together.

A concise but fascinating medical detective story appears in the letters of this week's (10 Apr 2008) issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (free full text at the time of this posting.).

An astute group of physicians at Leipzig Hospital in Germany noted a local surge of young people presenting with classic symptoms of lead poisoning - 29 patients aged 16 to 33 over the course of 3-4 mo........ Read more »

Franziska Busse, Leyla Omidi, Alexander Leichtle, Michael Windgassen, Eyleen Kluge, & Michael Stumvoll. (2008) Lead Poisoning Due to Adulterated Marijuana. New England Journal of Medicine, 358(15), 1641-1642. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/358/15/1641

  • February 12, 2008
  • 05:01 PM
  • 1,176 views

Beware of alternative medicine sites offering breast cancer advice

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

There are responsible ways to present medical information and irresponsible ways. I will say at the outset that I have no ethical issues with discussing complementary and alternative medicine with cancer patients, as long as the information presented is based in fact.

So it was no surprise to me and actually quite alarming to read a recent report suggesting that while only 1 in 20 breast cancer websites offer incorrect information, CAM-focused websites were 15 times more likely to contain inac........ Read more »

  • February 2, 2008
  • 04:01 PM
  • 1,978 views

More on medical geophagy in chimps: montmorillonite clay and the origins of life

by David J Kroll in Terra Sigillata

Readers and colleagues often ask why scientists care to blog, especially given increasing time demands and decreasing research funding. For me, the blog is an opportunity to have discussions with colleagues from diverse research areas all around the world. Quite often, I learn something quite new that I would not normally encounter in my chosen field of cancer pharmacology.

A case in point stems from a reader comment by Dr Italo MR Guedes, a Brazilian soil scientist who writes the blog, Ge&oa........ Read more »

James Ferris, & Gozem Ertem. (1992) Oligomerization of Ribonucleotides on Montmorillonite: Reaction of the 5'-Phosphorimidazolide of Adenosine. Science, 1387-1389. info:PMID/1529338

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