Pharming is a portmanteau of farming and ‘pharmaceutical’ and refers to the use of genetic engineering to insert genes that code for useful pharmaceuticals into host animals or plants that would otherwise not express those genes, thus creating a genetically modified organism (GMO).
The products of pharming are typically recombinant proteins (or their metabolic products), which are proteins that result from the expression of recombinant DNA (molecular cloning in a laboratory brings together genetic material from multiple sources, creating sequences that would not otherwise be found in biological organisms). Recombinant proteins are most commonly produced using bacteria or yeast in a bioreactor.read more »
Melatonin [mel-uh-toh-nin] is a naturally occurring hormone found in animals, plants, and microbes. In animals, circulating levels of melatonin vary in a daily cycle, thereby allowing the entrainment of the circadian rhythms of several biological functions. Many biological effects of melatonin are produced through activation of melatonin receptors, while others are due to its role as a pervasive and powerful antioxidant (a molecule that neutralizes free radicals), with a particular role in the protection of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Products containing melatonin have been available over-the-counter in the United States since the mid-1990s. In many other countries, the sale of this neurohormone is not permitted or requires a prescription.
Melatonin has been identified in many plants including feverfew, St John’s wort, rice, corn, tomato, and fruits such as bananas and cherries. The physiological roles of melatonin in plants involve regulation of their response to photoperiod, defense against harsh environments, and to function as an antioxidant. The latter may be the original function of melatonin in organisms with the others being added during evolution. Melatonin also regulates plant growth by its ability to slow root formation, while promoting above ground growth.
Naked Lunch is the 1991 film adaptation written and directed by David Cronenberg, of William S. Burroughs’ novel of the same name. Rather than attempting a straight adaptation, Cronenberg took a few elements from the book and combined them with elements of Burroughs’ life, creating a hybrid film about the writing of the book rather than the book itself. Peter Weller starred as William Lee, the pseudonym Burroughs used when he wrote ‘Junkie.’ Lee is an exterminator who finds that his wife Joan is stealing his insecticide (pyrethrum) to use as a drug. When Lee is arrested by the police, he begins hallucinating because of ‘bug powder’ exposure. He believes he is a secret agent whose controller (a giant bug) assigns him the mission of killing Joan, who is an agent of an organization called Interzone Incorporated. Lee dismisses the bug and its instructions and kills it. He returns home to find Joan sleeping with Hank, one of his writer friends. Shortly afterwards, he accidentally kills her while attempting to shoot a drinking glass off her head in imitation of William Tell.
Naked Lunch is a novel by William S. Burroughs originally published in 1959. The book is structured as a series of loosely-connected vignettes. Burroughs stated that the chapters are intended to be read in any order. The reader follows the narration of junkie William Lee, who takes on various aliases, from the US to Mexico, eventually to Tangier and the dreamlike Interzone (international zone, a type of extraterritoriality governed by international law). The vignettes (called ‘routines’) are drawn from Burroughs’ own experience in these places, and his addiction to drugs (heroin, morphine, and while in Tangier, ‘Majoun’—a strong marijuana confection—as well as a German opioid, brand name Eukodol, of which he wrote frequently).
The book was originally published with the title ‘The Naked Lunch’ in Paris in by Olympia Press. Because of US obscenity laws, a complete American edition did not follow until 1962. It was titled ‘Naked Lunch’ and was substantially different, because it was based on an earlier 1958 manuscript in Allen Ginsberg’s possession. Burroughs states in his introduction that Jack Kerouac suggested the title. ‘The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.’ In a 1960 letter to Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac said he was pleased that Burroughs had credited him with the title. He states that Ginsberg misread ‘Naked Lust’ from the manuscript, and only he noticed; that section of the manuscript later became Queer, although the phrase does not appear in either of the two final texts of that novel.
Capsaicin [kap-sey-uh-sin] is a chemical substance. It is responsible for the sense of hotness found in chile peppers. In mammals, it causes a sensation of burning of the tissues it comes in contact with. Capsicain, and other similar substances called capsaicinoids are produced by chile peppers and other plants, probably as deterrents against certain herbivores and fungi. Pure capsaicin is a hydrophobic, colorless, odorless, crystalline to waxy compound. Capsaicinoids are added to food to make it have a hot taste, but it can also be used as an analgesic (painkiller). Such painkillers are often directly used on the skin. The burning of the capsaicin masks the real pain. Capsicaicin is also the main agent in pepper spray. Capsicain is not soluble in water; it binds to oil and fat. Soap can be used to wash it off. In 2006, it was discovered that the venom of a certain tarantula species activates the same pathway of pain as is activated by capsaicin, the first demonstrated case of such a shared pathway in both plant and animal anti-mammal defense.
Capsaicin is present in large quantities in the placental tissue (which holds the seeds), the internal membranes and, to a lesser extent, the other fleshy parts of the fruits of plants in the genus Capsicum (peppers). The seeds themselves do not produce any capsaicin, although the highest concentration of capsaicin can be found in the white pith of the inner wall, where the seeds are attached. The seeds of Capsicum plants are predominantly dispersed by birds, which do not react to capsaicin. Chili pepper seeds consumed by birds pass through the digestive tract and can germinate later, but mammals have molar teeth, which destroy seeds and prevent them from germinating. Thus, natural selection may have led to increasing capsaicin production because it makes the plant less likely to be eaten by animals that do not help it reproduce. In addition, there is evidence that capsaicin evolved as an anti-fungal agent. The fungal pathogen, Fusarium, is known to infect wild chilies which reduces seed viability. Capsaicin deters the fungus, and in doing so limits this form of predispersal seed mortality.
Coenzyme Q10 is an oil-soluble, vitamin-like substance present in most eukaryotic cells, primarily in the mitochondria. Enzymes are protein molecules which work as catalysts (accelerating chemical reactions); coenzymes are are non-protein compounds bound to an enzyme. They are sometimes referred to as ‘helper molecules.’ CoQ10 aids in cellular respiration (the conversion of sugar into usable energy). It is a component of the electron transport chain and participates in aerobic respiration, generating energy in the form of ATP. Ninety-five percent of the human body’s energy is generated this way. Therefore, those organs with the highest energy requirements—such as the heart, liver and kidney—have the highest CoQ10 concentrations.
CoQ10 was first discovered by Professor Fredrick L. Crane in 1957. In 1958, its chemical structure was reported by Dr. Karl Folkers and coworkers at Merck. In 1961 Peter Mitchell proposed the electron transport chain (which includes the vital role of CoQ10) and he received a Nobel prize for the same in 1978. In 1972, Gian Paolo Littarru and Karl Folkers separately demonstrated a deficiency of CoQ10 in human heart disease. The 1980s witnessed a steep rise in the number of clinical trials due to the availability of large quantities of pure CoQ10 and methods to measure plasma and blood CoQ10 concentrations. The antioxidant role of the molecule as a free radical scavenger was widely studied by Lars Ernster. Antioxidants are molecules that can slow or stop the oxidation, or loss of electrons, of other molecules; by, for example, donating electrons to free radicals (molecules with an unpaired electron), which left unpaired can cause cellular damage.
Conjugated linoleic [li-noh-lee-ik] acids (CLA) are a family acids found mostly in the meat and dairy products derived from ruminants. CLAs can be either cis- or trans-fats. In 1979, researchers from the University of Wisconsin applied a beef extract to mice skin. The mice were then exposed to a strong carcinogen. When the researchers counted the number of tumors developed by the mice 16 weeks later, they found to their surprise that the mice exposed to the beef extract had 20% fewer tumors. The identity of this anticarcinogen was not discovered until almost a decade later, in 1987. Michael Pariza, the scientist who discovered CLA, later remarked that ‘few anticarcinogens, and certainly no other known fatty acids, are as effective as CLA in inhibiting carcinogenesis in these models.’ CLA has also shown promise in treating inflammatory bowel disease, and it is also known for its body weight management properties, which include reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass.
Conjugated linoleic acid is both a trans fatty acid and a cis fatty acid. The cis bond causes a lower melting point and ostensibly also the observed beneficial health effects. Unlike other trans fatty acids, it may have beneficial effects on human health. CLA is conjugated, and in the United States, trans linkages in a conjugated system are not counted as trans fats for the purposes of nutritional regulations and labeling. CLA and some trans isomers of oleic acid are produced by microorganisms in the rumens of ruminants. Kangaroo meat may have the highest concentration of CLA. Food products from grass-fed ruminants (e.g. mutton and beef) are good sources of CLA, and contain much more of it than those from grain-fed animals. In fact, meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals can produce 300-500% more CLA than those of cattle fed the usual diet of 50% hay and silage, and 50% grain. Eggs are also rich in CLA, and CLA in eggs has been shown to survive the temperatures encountered during frying. Some mushrooms are rare nonanimal sources of CLA.
The Edgewood Arsenal experiments (also known as Project 112) are said to be related to or part of CIA mind-control programs after World War II, such as MKULTRA. Journalist Linda Hunt, citing records from the U.S. National Archives, revealed that eight German scientists worked at Edgewood, under Project Paperclip (the US program recruiting Nazi scientists after the war).
The experiments were performed at the Edgewood Arsenal, northeast of Baltimore, Maryland, and involved hallucinogens such LSD, THC, and BZ, in addition to biological and chemical agents. Experiments on human subjects utilizing such agents goes back to at least World War I. In the mid-1970s, in the wake of many health claims made from exposure to such agents, including psychotropic drugs administered in later experiments, the U.S. Congress began investigations of misuse of such experiments, and inadequate informed consent given by the soldiers and civilians involved.
Cannabinoids [kuh-nab-uh-noid] are a class of diverse chemical compounds that activate cannabinoid receptors (molecules on the surface of a cells in the brain and throughout the body, which receive chemical signals). After the receptor is engaged, multiple intracellular signal pathways are activated; researchers are still unraveling the precise mechanism at work.
Cannabinoid receptors are activated by endocannabinoids (produced naturally in the body), phytocannabinoids (found in plants), and synthetic cannabinoids (produced chemically in a lab). The most notable cannabinoid is the phytocannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound of cannabis. However, there are known to exist dozens of other cannabinoids with varied effects. Before the 1980s, it was often speculated that cannabinoids produced their physiological and behavioral effects via nonspecific interaction with cell membranes, instead of interacting with specific membrane-bound receptors.read more »
A detection dog or sniffer dog is a dog that is trained to and works at using its senses (almost always the sense of smell) to detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, or blood. Hunting dogs that search for game and search dogs that search for missing humans are generally not considered detection dogs. There is some overlap, as in the case of human remains detection dogs (sometimes called cadaver dogs), trained to detect human remains. They are also used for drug raids to find where the drugs are. In the state of California, dogs are trained to detect the Quagga Mussel on boats at public boat ramps, as it is a invasive species. Sniffer dogs have also been enlisted to find bumblebee nests. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has trained an English Springer Spaniel to detect the colonies, assisting them with the conservation of threatened species. Some prisons have dogs trained to detect illicit cell phones in prison cells.
Detection dogs have been trained to search for many substances, including: Bed bugs, Human remains, Currency, Drugs, Explosives, Firearms, Mobile phones, Mold, Polycarbonate optical discs such as DVDs (used to search for bootleg recordings), and Termites. One notable quality of detection dogs is that they are able to discern individual scents even when the scents are combined or masked by other odors. In one case at an Australian prison, a detection dog foiled an attempt to smuggle drugs that had been hidden in a woman’s bra and smeared with coffee, pepper and Vicks Vapo-rub. A sniffer dog can detect blood even if it has been scrubbed off surfaces. In one case, a sniffer dog sniffed a drop of blood on a wall although an attempt had been made to scrub it off. It was so small that it couldn’t be seen without a microscope. Some of these functions can be carried out by trained pigs, which also have an excellent sense of smell, and have been used to hunt truffles for centuries.
The Merry Pranksters was a cohort that formed around American author Ken Kesey in 1964 and sometimes lived communally at his homes in California and Oregon. The group promoted the use of psychedelic drugs. Their motto was ‘Never Trust a Prankster.’
Kesey and the Merry Pranksters are noted for the sociological significance of a lengthy road trip they took in the summer of 1964, traveling across the United States in a psychedelic painted school bus enigmatically and variably labeled ‘Further.’ Their early escapades were chronicled by Tom Wolfe in ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.’ Wolfe also documents a notorious 1966 trip on Further from Mexico through Houston, stopping to visit Kesey’s friend, novelist Larry McMurtry. Kesey was in flight from a drug charge at the time.
An entheogen [en-theo-gen] (‘generating the divine within’) is a psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context. Historically, entheogens were mostly derived from plant sources and have been used in a variety of traditional religious contexts.
Entheogens can supplement many diverse practices for healing, transcendence, and revelation, including: meditation, psychonautics, art projects, and psychedelic therapy. Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years. Examples of traditional entheogens include: peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, uncured tobacco, cannabis, ayahuasca, salvia, iboga, morning glory, and Amanita muscaria mushrooms.
The mesolimbic pathway is one of the dopaminergic pathways in the brain. The pathway begins in the midbrain (part of the brain stem) and connects to the limbic system (Paleomammalian brain) via the nucleus accumbens (‘pleasure center’), the amygdala (associated with the assignment of emotions, especially fear and anxiety; there are two, one in each temporal lobe, and their functions may be lateralized), and the hippocampus (associated with procedural and declarative memory) as well as to the medial prefrontal cortex. The mesolimbic dopamine system is widely believed to be a ‘reward’ pathway, but that theory is not universally accepted.
Sensitization [sen-si-tuh-zey-shuhn] is an example of non-associative learning (learning involving exposure to a single event) in which the progressive amplification of a response follows repeated administrations of a stimulus. An everyday example of this mechanism is a warm sensation followed by pain caused by constantly rubbing an arm. The pain is the result of the progressively amplified response of the nerve endings. Sensitization is thought to underlie both adaptive as well as maladaptive learning processes in the organism. Sensitization refers to the process by which a cellular receptor becomes more likely to respond to a stimulus (more efficient). There are a several of different types of sensitization: long-term potentiation, kindling, central sensitization, and drug sensitization.