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Quiz about Drugs From Plants
Quiz about Drugs From Plants

Drugs From Plants Trivia Quiz


Many modern medicines originally came from plants. This quiz introduces you to just a few - see what you know about your prescriptions.

A multiple-choice quiz by Mink. Estimated time: 7 mins.
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Author
Mink
Time
7 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
309,309
Updated
Jul 23 22
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Difficult
Avg Score
5 / 10
Plays
1853
Awards
Top 20% Quiz
Last 3 plays: eve_woa (4/10), Guest 184 (1/10), Guest 69 (7/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. The first drug is one that has been in use for centuries as a painkiller. It was originally taken as a powder made from the bark and leaves of a willow tree but is more usually taken as a tablet now. Which drug am I describing?

Answer: (One Word)
Question 2 of 10
2. Diamorphine is very powerful analgesic obtained from the opium poppy but it is probably better known by another name which was originally a trade name. What is this other name?

Answer: (One Word)
Question 3 of 10
3. The bark of Cinchona succiruba is the source of a very widely used drug, first used in European medicine in the 1600s and still in use today. Which drug is it? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. Paclitaxel has become one of the most effective drugs used in the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers. It was first discovered in the bark and leaves of a tree. Which type? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. William Withering is famous for having first published a paper in 1785 describing the use of digitalis (derived from foxgloves) in treating dropsy. The modern drug digoxin is isolated from digitalis. What is less well-known is that the grandfather of an even more famous man collaborated with Withering in the treatment of at least one patient and published his own account of the use of digitalis. Whose grandfather was it? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. Caffeine is a well-known constituent of tea but which drug, used to help people with asthma and other breathing difficulties, is also derived from the same plant, Camellia sinensis? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. Capsaicin cream is a fairly recent treatment for pain, particularly arthritis pain and nerve pain, and has also been used to help people who suffer from bad itching. The active ingredient comes from a plant that is found in our kitchens but do you know what it is? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. Yams are the source of a group of chemicals that are very important to human medicine as they are used to treat a wide range of conditions. This group of medicines derived from yams are called what? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. Gout is a condition that makes everyone think of wealthy Georgian gentlemen overindulging in rich food and port and having to sit with their gouty foot on a stool. It's the subject of cartoons and jokes but can be excruciatingly painful.

The autumn crocus is a plant which provides a toxic drug that is nevertheless useful in treating gout. What is it?

Answer: (One Word)
Question 10 of 10
10. Vinca alkaloids are a group of chemical compounds that are of enormous benefit in treating some cancers and, particularly, leukaemias. Do you know which plant they were originally found in? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. The first drug is one that has been in use for centuries as a painkiller. It was originally taken as a powder made from the bark and leaves of a willow tree but is more usually taken as a tablet now. Which drug am I describing?

Answer: Aspirin

Hippocrates recorded the use of powdered bark and leaf of willow tree being used as a painkiller and it has been used in this way by many cultures right up until the nineteenth century. In 1829 it was discovered that a compound called salicin was what gave the pain relief. From this salicylic acid was extracted and was used instead of the raw product. Unfortunately, this was very irritant to the stomach and so in 1853 a French chemist called Frederic Gerhardt developed acetylsalicylic acid which was much less irritant. He had no desire to market it though and so it remained merely a chemical discovery until 1899 when a German chemist named Felix Hoffmann rediscovered it. He worked for the German company Bayer (who are still in existence today) and persuaded them to market the compound.

The name Aspirin was actually a trade or brand name originally and was made up from the A of acetyl chloride used to make it, the "spir" from the plant name spiraea ulmaria where the salicylic acid came from and given the ending "in" which was familiar to the public as a name ending for medicines. Aspirin was sold as a powder and remained a trademark of Bayer until after World War 1 when the company was forced to give it up as part of the Treaty of Versailles.

Nowadays aspirin is the generic name for acetylsalicylic acid and it used probably more as an anti-platelet agent to prevent clot formation in people with heart disease than as a painkiller. However, it remains an important part of modern medicine.
2. Diamorphine is very powerful analgesic obtained from the opium poppy but it is probably better known by another name which was originally a trade name. What is this other name?

Answer: Heroin

Heroin was originally a trademark owned by Bayer, a German chemical company. The drug itself is diamorphine, or diacetylmorphine, made by acetylating morphine and was discovered in 1874 by an English chemist, C Alder Wright who was working at St Mary's Hospital in London. Bayer rediscovered it and marketed it in 1898. The name Heroin was possibly coined because it made people who took it feel heroic or because of the drug's heroic effect on pain. It was also used as a cough suppressant.

Nowadays it is still used in some countries as a potent analgesic and is particularly useful in controlling pain in people with terminal cancer or other conditions when pain is difficult to control. However, its popularity as a drug of abuse has meant that it is strictly controlled and is probably better known as a street drug than for its legitimate use.
3. The bark of Cinchona succiruba is the source of a very widely used drug, first used in European medicine in the 1600s and still in use today. Which drug is it?

Answer: Quinine

Quinine is obtained from the bark of the cinchona tree which grows in the rainforests in the Andes in Bolivia and Peru. It was the first drug known to treat malaria and had been used by the local Andean people for a long time. An Augustinian monk was the first European to write about it in 1633 and in 1638 it was used to cure the wife of the Viceroy of Peru. In 1640 the bark was brought to England where it was known as powder of the devil. Robert Talbor started using it medicinally and eventually was awarded a knighthood and made Royal Physician for his efforts.

Quinine was eventually isolated from the bark in 1820 by two French scientists, Cavetou and Pelletier, named quinine after the cinchona (or quina) tree and it was used in this purified form until the 1940s when resistance of the malaria parasite to the drug and the discovery of new drugs made it fall out of fashion. Nowadays it is being used again as resistance to the newer drugs has now developed and old-fashioned quinine is often more effective.

Quinine is an ingredient of tonic water and gives it its bitter taste. Some people believe that it was added because of its effects against malaria and that was why it was so favoured in the hotter parts of the British Empire. However, the quantity is so small that you'd probably have to drink a very large number of gin and tonics for it to work!
4. Paclitaxel has become one of the most effective drugs used in the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers. It was first discovered in the bark and leaves of a tree. Which type?

Answer: Yew

Paclitaxel was first found in 1970 when the US National Cancer Institute tested plants held in various collections. The paclitaxel was found in an extract that had been made from the bark and needles of the Pacific Yew in the 1960s.

It took until 1990 for a form of Taxol (which is the trademark for the drug) to be made from the needles of the English yew. This was a breakthrough as the needles are a renewable source of the compound (taking the bark kills the tree which is very slow growing) and the compound isolated was much easier to isolate than the original paclitaxel. Research continues into the compounds obtained from the yew and their role in treating cancers.
5. William Withering is famous for having first published a paper in 1785 describing the use of digitalis (derived from foxgloves) in treating dropsy. The modern drug digoxin is isolated from digitalis. What is less well-known is that the grandfather of an even more famous man collaborated with Withering in the treatment of at least one patient and published his own account of the use of digitalis. Whose grandfather was it?

Answer: Charles Darwin

Erasmus Darwin was a physician and supposedly asked Withering for a second opinion on a patient of his who was suffering from dropsy - what we now know as cardiac failure. There may have been other collaborations but in 1785 both Darwin and Withering published papers describing the treatment. As a result, a bitter argument broke out with Darwin accusing Withering of having plagiarised his work by stealing his patients.

Erasmus is not as well known as either Withering or his own famous grandson, Charles, but was a prominent Georgian scientist who was particularly interested in botany. Another of his grandsons was Francis Galton who developed one of the first systems for classifying fingerprints.
6. Caffeine is a well-known constituent of tea but which drug, used to help people with asthma and other breathing difficulties, is also derived from the same plant, Camellia sinensis?

Answer: Theophylline

Theophylline was first extracted from tea leaves in 1888 by Kossler but was not used in the treatment of asthma until the 1950s when it became a mainstay of treatment. It can also be found in green coffee and cacao plants.

There are a lot of other drugs which can interact with theophylline, including the chemicals absorbed by smoking tobacco. They can lower the amount of theophylline in the blood and make it less effective.
7. Capsaicin cream is a fairly recent treatment for pain, particularly arthritis pain and nerve pain, and has also been used to help people who suffer from bad itching. The active ingredient comes from a plant that is found in our kitchens but do you know what it is?

Answer: Chilli peppers

Capsaicin is the active constituent of chilli peppers and is what makes them hot. When it comes into contact with human tissue it causes irritation and a burning sensation. It works by interfering with a neurotransmitter called substance P which sends pain signals to the brain.

Capsaicin was first isolated in 1816 by Bucholz and given its name by Thresh in 1846. In 1961, other related compounds were also discovered by Japanese researchers but it was not used in medicine until the 1990s. It was researched in the early 1990s as a treatment for arthritic pains and has been used with success since then.
8. Yams are the source of a group of chemicals that are very important to human medicine as they are used to treat a wide range of conditions. This group of medicines derived from yams are called what?

Answer: Steroids

Yams belong to the botanical group dioscorea which are grown in many tropical countries for food as well as for medicinal purposes. They contain a range of steroids and alkaloids which can have very potent effects on the human (and other animal) body.

The most significant steroid obtained from yams was diosgenin which was worked on in the 1940s by Russell Marker who found he could synthesise testosterone and progesterone from it. He set up a company specifically to make and research these compounds. By 1951 the first chemical to be used as the oral contraceptive pill had been made and clinical trials began which led to "The Pill" being available in the 1960s.

Other steroid compounds can be extracted from yams and in recent years interest has been rekindled in the possibilities of finding many more active compounds which could be used to treat a range of conditions.
9. Gout is a condition that makes everyone think of wealthy Georgian gentlemen overindulging in rich food and port and having to sit with their gouty foot on a stool. It's the subject of cartoons and jokes but can be excruciatingly painful. The autumn crocus is a plant which provides a toxic drug that is nevertheless useful in treating gout. What is it?

Answer: Colchicine

The botanical name of the Autumn crocus is colchicum autumnale and this is where the name of the drug, colchicine, comes from. Extracts of the plant were described around 2000 years ago as being helpful in treating gouty conditions and colchicine was isolated in 1822 by two French chemists.

It is a very toxic drug and is only used now in the very acute phase of gout when its dose has to be limited and when it often causes a number of side effects, including rather nasty diarrhoea. Other drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have taken over as the preferred treatment and allopurinol is used to prevent gout in patients who are at risk of getting it.
10. Vinca alkaloids are a group of chemical compounds that are of enormous benefit in treating some cancers and, particularly, leukaemias. Do you know which plant they were originally found in?

Answer: Periwinkle

The Madagascan or Rose Periwinkle, Catharanthus roseus (originally known as Vinca rosea) had been used in traditional medicine for many years, in particular in treating diabetes. Extracts of the plant were being tested on rats in the 1950s to see if it might be useful for this condition when it was noticed that the rats had bone marrow damage and reduced white cell counts.

In 1958 the first compound, vinblastine, was discovered and vincristine followed a few years later. However, the drugs were not used clinically until relatively recently.

In common with many other drugs used to treat cancers, they are very toxic drugs and can only be used intravenously. Research continues into new uses.
Source: Author Mink

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