How many scientific papers open with a line from a Rodgers and Hammerstein song?
How many of our papers are truly fun to read?
Yet, Roger Papke (Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics) published such a paper in PLoS One in late 2015. The paper is about a silent agonist of the alpha-7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR), arecoline. Yes, the paper is pharmacology, but it is so much more. It is about addiction, sociology, history, and even some geography. Arecoline is from the seed of the Areca catechu palm, it is also known as the ‘betel nut’ in Asia. Despite risks of oral cancers, it is estimated that between 200-600 people throughout the world chew concoctions containing arecoline. The specific activity of arecoline on nAChR may partially account for the habitual use of betel nuts, but as we are learning the biology and sociology of addiction are indeed complex.
I urge you to read this incredibly interesting and well-written paper. My only regret is that it took me almost a year to do so. It is now on the top of my recommended reading list for UF students and trainees. When I greet incoming graduate students, I steal an Einstein quote, “creativity is intelligence having fun”. In reading this paper it is so clear that Roger is not only intelligent, but he is also having fun.
Papke RL, Horenstein NA, Stokes C. (2015). Nicotinic Activity of Arecoline, the Psychoactive Element of “Betel Nuts”, Suggests a Basis for Habitual Use and Anti-Inflammatory Activity.