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Book Review An Introduction to the Alkaloids. By G. A. Swan

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out inhaling, the last third of cigars and cigarettes being
rejected. Filtration of the smoke through impregnated wadding also makes smoking more hygienic.” The reviewer would
have preferred a sterner warning, even in a “primer”.
On the whole, however, the book is a welcome addition to
the German literature on toxicology. It can be recommended,
not only to physicians and hospital doctors, but also to
chemists and works managers as a source of ready information on the dangers involved in handling chemicals. Intelligent use of the MAC tables is also important for chemists.
H. Oettel [ N B 7261
An Introduction to the Alkaloids. By G. A . Swan. Blackwell
Scientific Publications. Oxford-Edinburgh 1967. 1st Edit.,
viii, 326 pp., 63 s.
Because of the tendency to use increasingly smaller molecules for descriptions of chemical and physical methods,
many organic chemistry textbooks have become more or less
removed from the field of natural products, where many of
these methods were in fact developed. However, natural
products not only constitute the original and literal object of
study in “organic” chemistry, but also a good medium for
training students. Their structure and biological function
offers an abundance of problems fulI of methodological and
theoretical aspects. Alkaloids represent a particularly good
example and in this introduction by Swan have been given an
excellent presentation very suitable for use in colleges.
A good, competent selection of chemical, biogenetic, and
pharmacological information is used to illustrate why the
alkaloids have been, and still are, a fascinating object of
study. Among others, the stereochemistry of yohimbine and
morphine, Woodward‘s strychnine synthesis, mass spectrometry of the indole alkaloids, the biosynthesis of tropane,
opium, and indole alkaloids and the medicinal utilization of
quinine and reserpine, all illustrated by excellent formulas,
make exciting reading. A further stimulating feature of this
book is the occasional interposition of amusing bits of
information in the otherwise concentrated scientific text.
The reader is told how the Spanish Jesuits calculated the cost
of cinchona bark in the 17th century and that spiders spin
more regular webs after being given LSD. The contents are
divided into 21 chapters on the basis of the heterocyclic structures. The wide margin left on each page to enable supplementary notes to be added is useful. Almost 900 references
extending to 1966 are given and few misprints are evident.
The book deserves every recommendation as a modern introduction to the alkaloids for advanced students and others
possessing some basic knowledge of heterocyclic compounds.
The low price will encourage its wide distribution.
E. Frunck
[NB 718 IE]
muscle relaxants, are discussed by J. J . Lewis and T. C. Muir
in terms of their mode of action. J. P. Long and C. J. Evans
discuss reversibly acting cholinesterase inhibitors from the
aspect of model postulates, whereas the kinetics of the irreversible phosphorus-containing cholinesterase inhibitors are
dealt with in a short article by I . E . Wilson with reference to
the extensive literature. Two other chapters deal with sympathomimetic agents (A. M . Lands and T. G. Brown j r . ) and
sympatholytic agents ( N . B. Chapman and J. D . B. Graham).
In conclusion, C . M. Smith reports on the medicinal influencing of the afferent nervous system, with particular
attention to pain, and pressor and chemoreceptors. Despite
the certain amount of overlapping inevitable in a collective
work, the book seems to be self-contained. The theoretical
introduction to each chapter does much to help the reader
who is not so familiar with the field, thus making the contents
more useful to a wider audience.
G. Quadbeck
[NB 712 IE]
Molecular Biophysics. By D. Chapman and R. B. Leslie.
Contemporary Science Paperbacks,Vol. 4.Oliver and Boyd,
Edinburgh-London 1967. 1st Edit., vi, 151 pages, several
figures and tables, paperback 7s. 6d.
This little book attempts to describe what is meant by
molecular biophysics. In doing so it renders a service neither
to molecular biophysics nor to the reader, if it is in fact
possible to establish for whom this book is intended. For
example, the term codon is explained at length, but the term
relaxation effect is assumed to be understood by itself. Is one
expected to know what this term means and yet to have to
be told what nuclear resonance denotes?
The meaning that the authors attach to the term molecular
biophysics is likewise obscure. In an initial descriptive part
the extended formula of lecithin occupies a special page.
It seems that molecular biophysics does not presuppose even an elementary acquaintance with the chemistry of natural products. Then a morphological discussion is used to define molecular biophysics and finally
we wander into the theory of evolution. The respiratory
chain is once more described o n the basis of the redox
potentials of the isolated constituents, the nonheme iron and
copper are suppressed “for the sake of clarity”. The entire
Krebs cycle, which can hardly be regarded as forming a part of molecular biophysics, is given; so are the
inevitable photographs of the Perutz hemoglobin model.
Much is made of electron spin resonance and free radicals
without defining the term radical. By contrast, the triplet
oxygen molecule, a phenomenon unique to molecular biophysics, is not mentioned.
Finally, Chapter 6 discusses some “selected problems in
biophysics”. The chapter is a pleasure to read and obviously
this is where the interest of the authors lies. In some instances
concluding chapters can justify a book; this is not one of
P. Hemmerich
[NB 724 IE]
Drugs Affecting the Peripheral Nervous System. By A . Burger.
Medical Research Series, Vol. 1. Marcel Dekker, Inc.,
New York 1967. 1st Edit., xxiii, 620 pages, $ 27.50.
In the introductory chapter S. Ehrenpreis reports o n the
transfer of cholinergic stimulation in terms of molecular
biology. He finds that it has not so far been possible to
isolate the receptor, and that all postulates are thus purely
hypothetical. H. L . Friedman describes postganglionic parasympathetic stimulants and the variability of the acetylcholine
molecule in connection with the muxcarine-like effect. J. C.
Cannon and J. P. Long discuss cholinolytic atropine-like
drugs and the relationships between biological action and
stereochemical configuration. L. Gyermek reports in a remarkably concise and clear manner about drugs stimulating
or blocking the peripheral ganglion. Substances which influence the nervous transfer to the skeletal muscle, above all
L’Analyse Cinetique de la Transformation Chimique (Kinetic
Analysis of Chemical Reactions), Vol. 1. By J. C. Jungers
and L . Sujus, with the collaboration of I . de Aguirre and
D . Decroq. Edition Technio, Paris 1967. 1st Edit., 604
pages, 224 figures, 163 tables, DOUnd, F 145.-.
The title of the book defines the scope: kinetics is not discussed for its own sake.
In the preface it is stressed that first gas reactions were treated,
then reactions in extremely dilute solutions, while in laboratory and industry one works with solutions as concentrated
as possible. It is rightly pointed out that even the choice of
reaction systems already involved simplifications.
Angew. Chem. internat. Edit. 1 Vol. 7 (I968)
1 No. 8
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