graphdesino (graphdesino) wrote in little_details,

Assorted questions on pharmaceutical chemistry, poisons and lab etiquette.

Context and questions below.

Here's the premise: Main character is a technician working on the development of new drugs in a pharmacological lab. (Please correct any incorrect terminology; that's why I'm here.) She decides to kill herself by synthesizing a poison and ingesting it, but makes an error, and creates the wrong compound. She sets it aside to dispose of later. One of her colleagues mistakes it for the compound he has been experimenting with, and to his astonishment, it eradicates all trace of disease in his samples. The main character, through her error, has stumbled upon an elusive cure.

So here we go.

  • I'm leaning towards having her synthesize a cocktail of cytotoxic drugs, similar to what might be used in chemo. The disease in question would then, of course, be cancer. However, I get that these chemicals are probably not easy to "make". Her poison has to be in a liquid or solid form, though, as she can't gas the rest of the building in making it (thus killing the other characters). That rules out nerve agents to a large degree. Suggestions? (The poison itself can be fictional, so long as there would be a plausible method for making it.)

  • It is necessary to the plot that the MC's failed poison is confused with an experimental drug. However, it would be strange for her not to dispose of it immediately... right? Is there any reason you can think of why she might break lab etiquette like that? Could she just stuff it in cold storage and decide to re-attempt making the poison tomorrow, not knowing that cold temperatures proved a necessary catalyst to make the curative drug... or something like that?

  • On a similar note, does anyone know what the general rules are for being alone in pharmacological labs? It's dramatic to imagine her drunkenly mixing poisons at 4 AM, but if this is illegal...

  • How exactly does drug testing occur? What is the process, for, say, trying out a new antiviral drug? I assume samples of the virus are cultured and then exposed to the drug, but can anyone describe in detail the general process? What about non-contagious diseases like cancer?

Thank you.
Tags: ~medicine (misc), ~medicine: drugs, ~medicine: overdose, ~medicine: poisoning, ~science (misc), ~science: biology (misc), ~suicide
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