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Chemical contributions to the medical sciences

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My Head Hurts

My Head Hurts

Credit: Ben Mills
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aspirin-B-3D-balls.png
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

It is likely that you have experienced a headache during the course of your life. One of the most common medicines for this ailment is aspirin (pictured above). A pretty simply molecule with a pretty complex chemical history!

News You Can Use

  • Many chemists are employed in careers related to human health. 
  • Some of the areas of medicinal research include: oncology research (cancer research), cardiovascular research, neuroscience research (for example, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease), antiviral research and analgesic research (an analgesic is a compound which reduces or eliminates pain). 
  • While aspirin is effective at mild pain relief there are many currently active research programs dedicated to developing novel painkillers. 
  • Credit: Lisa Sasser
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/quid-tum/6904102845/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Aspirin has been sold for over 100 years. This ad is from 1917 [Figure2]

  • To learn more about the interesting origins of aspirin, watch the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amTAuK25P6c

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With the links below, learn more about the analgesic drugs aspirin and paracetamol (marketed as Tylenol). Then answer the following questions.

  1. Paracetamol (also known as Tylenol) is commonly administered to children when they have pain and fever. However, one should be careful to avoid an overdose of this common drug. What is the major side effect upon overdose of this compound?
  2. How is aspirin believed to work?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Ben Mills; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aspirin-B-3D-balls.png; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Lisa Sasser; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/quid-tum/6904102845/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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