Biosynthesis of catecholamines adrenaline/epinephrine and noradrenaline/norepinephrine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dopamine (C8H11NO2) is a monoamine neurotransmitter in the brain and a member of the catecholamine family. Catecholamines are molecules that serve as neurotransmitters and hormones. Monoamines are compounds that contain nitrogen formed by replacing one or more of the Hydrogen atoms on ammonia (NH3). Dopamine itself is formed by the decarboxylation (removal of a -COOH group) from dihydroxyphenylalanine, whose common acronym is DOPA. Dopamine is a precursor to adrenaline, or epinephrine, and noradrenaline, or norepinephrine. Adrenaline is a stress hormone, part of the fight or flight mechanism. One of the many functions of noradrenaline is increasing the rate of contraction of the heart.
Parkinson’s Disease is believed to be caused by low levels of dopamine in certain regions of the brain. Treatment involves the use of dopa, which, after it crosses the blood-brain barrier, can be converted into dopamine. This increase in concentration can lessen movement disorders associated with the disease as well as improving nerve conduction.
One of the great things about WordPress is the little calendar that shows you the days on which you’ve posted. One of the bad things about it is looking at that same calendar and seeing how sad and empty it looks. -_- To get myself back into the swing of posting, I’ve decided to start an Alphabet challenge. Hopefully I can kick-start myself into a blogging groove again with this. Below I’ll list each day, the letter, and as I pick my topic, I’ll come back here and add it. The one day that I probably won’t post on is June 8th. Blasted GRE. If I absolutely cannot find an animal or drug or something that follows the days letter, I’ll get creative.
Last night, my dad was watching something on the news about the Cone Snail and its venom. Being the nerd that I am, I figured, “Hey. I wonder what makes those little things so toxic. I could blog about that.”
A very important factor of the venom of this roughly 6 inch long snail is the potency. If it had a lesser effect, the prey would swim away and die elsewhere, taxing the snail with the cost of making the venom and getting no reward. An instant paralyzing effect is key. The venom itself is comprised of hundreds of different toxins. The delivery method is a harpoonlike tooth on the snail’s extendable proboscis.
Several humans have falled victim to the cone snail’s complex cocktail. If you every have the misfortune of being “harpooned” by this small creature, your best hope is fighting to stay alive until the toxins wear off. No anti-venom exists.
Within the venom of the cone snail are proteins that could very well pave the way to a new class of analgesics (pain killers). Specific human pain receptors are targeted by some of these proteins. They can be up to 10,000 times more potent than morphine without the same addictive results and side effects.