Monday, February 20, 2006

Everything that could go wrong went wrong in yesterday's pharmacology lab session. And I thought Miss V was exaggerating when she cautioned us last week about problems that could occur during the experiment.

Our aim was to measure the effect of histamine on the guinea pig ileum; Darren, Di and I were in charge of one organ bath. And boy.. wutta looonnngggg frustrating day! We were already in the lab by 1.30pm. Started our series of dilutions of the histamine stock solution, and everything seemed to be just fine at first.

But.. hey, what's this?! A kink in the drainage hose? Ok.. fine. Let's just hope that the drug can be properly drained from the organ bath during washing. Then.. do.. do.. do.. Oh! What's this??!! We got a tissue that behaves like a nutter? Man, our ileum was contracting like crazy. Talk about being hyperactive.

The two problems combined, the three of us were on our way to disaster and inevitable failure. By then, understandably (correct spelling ka?), Di and Darren started cursing left and right. The other groups were all smooth sailing, (well, except for one or two other groups that somehow managed to kill off their tissue by drug overdose, haha!) and we were in trouble, but then Miss V, seemed more content to help other teams at the back. For the sake of keeping our sanity, I tried to calm the 2 of them down and talked as gently as I could, eventhough my patience too was really tested. We were so frustrated, see. We were already in the lab for 2 solid hours, and not making any progress.

In the end, after another repitition of serial dilutions and after changing to another organ bath and ileum tissue, I made a brief sign of the cross, and we made a third attempt to record the tissue's contraction... and.. finally.. everything went on perfectly! Ok, I may sound like a total nerd here, but the ileum behaved really well and was so stable that I could just cry out in relief. Thank God. The lab session is really an important one for us, because it will contribute 30% to our final mark for pharmacology module.

Needless to say, we were the last group to finish. At 6.10pm lagi tu. Sigh... Dont mind me, I'm just blowing off some steam.


John Purdue said...


Your trials with the isolated GP ileal strip prompted fond memories of my own days in pharmacy school. While working on my MS in pharmacol I learned to hang four ileal strips at a time and used that prep to screen chemicals from the Med Chem department for anticholinergic activity.

In those days we recorded contractions on a smoked kymograph drum. Did you work with a strain gage and polygraph?

I was pleasantly surprised to hear a pharmic talk about pharmacol lab. I have long been under the impression that pharmics no longer take the lab.

Have you done the isolated rabbit heart yet? How about the pithed frog to replicate Claude Bernard's experiments with curare?

Well, relish your days in the pharmacology lab. One day they will be good memories.

Anonymous said...

woooooohooooooooooo..........YES only US pharmacist would understand!!!!! ahem ;P

Vas said...

Excuse me, but I UNDERSTOOD everything. Like, loser!

John Purdue said...

Hey Anonymous in Michigan...

Before Purdue I was at Ferris (in those days it was called Ferris Institute) and practiced in Flint. Ring any bells for you?

Daphie said...

Hey John,

Your comment certainly is a pleasant surprise. =)

Yep, we used this system/software called Powerlab, and the contractions were recorded by the polygraph. I have to say that it was an interesting experiment, though our syllabus doesnt include any of those relatively 'sophisticated' stuff that you mentioned. We're only going to do really simple stuff; just studying the effects of agonist & antagonist, ECmax etc. We did histamine, so for our next organ bath session, we're going to study the effect of mepyramine on the ileum. Kinda easy, so it's too bad, really, because our seniors had more of a challenge then, they were dealing with unknown drugs.

Daphie said...

Hi, Michiebun!

Vasan.. dont pretend u noe wat i'm talking abt!

John Purdue said...

Hi Daphie,

Sorry I misspelled your name.
Actually, the stuff I mentioned is not sophisticated in the least. It is the old fashioned way we did science then.

The kymograph drum is a steel drum with a sheet of white paper wrapped around it. We used to set benzene afire (yes, that's leukemogenic benzene) and get great quantities of thick, black smoke. We used the smoke to put a black coat of soot on the paper.

Then through a series of levers, strings and pins we could record contractions of isolated organs and even arterial blood pressure in most any lab species.

If your pharmacol (or physiology)professor is nearing retirement age I'll bet he/she knows about kymograph drums.

It was all pretty primative but we sure had fun with it. Today I have even more fun working things like gene arrays and transgenic animals.

I do envy you and your classmates becasue of the fantastic stuff you will witness over the span of your own careers. So enjoy it day by day. It just keeps getting better and better.