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Chemistry (including Biochemistry)/Chemical Ethics and Safety


Hi. I'm terry from Korea.
I am just curious for some questions about chemistry. While I eating hamburger in fastfood shop, I saw some unordinary substance(just looks like black seed) in hamburger. I know that it will be tomato's black seed or burn meat or etc..But after that I though some question.
1. All substances are made of molecular substances and  chemical elements. And I know that if their elements are mixed, they could make totally new substances.
I know it is not so easy to make new chemical molecular structure , I think it is not impossible to make new substance.
So my question is , is it possible to make new substances (dangerous or toxin)in house or in school for high school student who learn chemistry, if not why? (hard to get the chemical elements ? or reagent or need for reaction machine? Because I don't have any knowledge for chemistry
I am very curious... If it is possible to make or compound dangerous chemical substance in house or in school, our life could be dangerous. When I check the dangerous chemical substances or toxins or poisons management website (government website), there are alot of detail data for that toxin chemical compounds (such as chemical compound structrue and what is the element and how to make.... Why they explain blueprint of such kinds of dangerous chemical compound.. I cannot understand.
2. As far As I know there are 50-60 very lethal chemical substances that managed by government. If people can make such kinds of dangerous chemical secretly, how can government control not to make and import such kinds of substances.
3. we can find out the molecular structrue of 50-60 very lethal chemical substance. what if bad people mix such lethal chemcical substacne and new substance and make totally new substance, how could know such kinds of mystery substance.
4. If scientist see that molecular structure. do they know that this is lethal or dangerous or it is safe?  or if they develop the new structure, they have to check the bad effect with rat or monkey?
5. is there any chemical substace or chemical compound that the body's liver or enzyme could not detoxify or excrete forever...

Hello Terry! You have many questions, so forgive me if some of my answers are short.

1) Many common cleaning agents can make unfortunate reactions when mixed; chlorinated sodium hypochlorite (bleach) and acetic acid (vinegar) are two common household cleaners that when mixed can produce gaseous chlorine, which is poisonous. So it is very possible to make dangerous or toxic substances at home or in school.

You are correct, much of the time it is difficult to acquire the ingredients to make dangerous substances. Some reactions require extremes of temperature or pressure before they will work.

Education in chemistry therefore includes a huge emphasis on safety. People who experiment carelessly with chemistry tend to hurt themselves before they hurt others.

The safety sheets are there so that medical professionals or others can treat people who have been damaged by chemical substances. Very often this specific information can save lives.

2) I do not know how Korea does things. In the US, you must acquire a license to purchase or sell certain materials, and be certified safe by the government. It is difficult to come by large amounts of solvents or other pure substances without certification. I also know that sales, shipping, and delivery of certain chemical substances is tracked and recorded, along with the reason for purchase.

While in some cases it may be possible to mix lethal substances from materials that may be purchased without a license, the amount of work it would take to do so from very simple materials is often a stumbling block. The huge amounts of often toxic waste generated in doing so would also be a good clue to local police officials.

3) You're right, that is a problem.  The US federal government employs people to analyze and understand the properties of new substances as they are found. It is an imperfect system by nature, because the bad people are always ahead. Fortunately the knowhow to make large quantities of a new substance, or to make it easy to expose lots of people people to the substance is very difficult. The process of creating new substances from raw materials and purifying them is very expensive in terms of reagents and time, also.

4) If a scientist determines the molecular structure, she can compare it to the known structures we have. Even if the structure is completely new, it is likely the structure shares some chemical similarities to known chemicals. As the chemical structure determines its properties, the scientist can get a good idea how the new substance might be dangerous before exposing mice or monkeys. You are correct, however, in that should a full investigation be needed the substance must be tested on living things.

Also, it is very difficult to purify dangerous substances. Many times, small amounts of other chemicals present around a new substance may alert authorities to where it was made and how.

5) There are substances that may not be likely to be excreted. Some beneficial substances that are not often removed include the fat soluble vitamins D and E. Some harmful ones include phenol or toluene, which pass through cellular barriers and bind DNA.

Ensuring the ethical use of chemical knowledge is a tricky and imperfect thing. Then again, ensuring the ethical use of knives, guns, and sticks is also difficult. Fortunately governing bodies have the tools and manpower to deal with these situations.

Chemistry (including Biochemistry)

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Trista Robichaud, PhD


No homework questions, especially ones copied and pasted from textbooks. I will answer questions about principles or give hints, but I do not do other's homework. I'm comfortable answering basic biochemistry, chemistry, and biology questions up to and including an undergraduate level of understanding. This includes molecular biology, protein purification, and genetics. My training/inclination is primarily in structural biology, or how the shapes of things affect their function. Other interests include protein design, protein engineering, enzyme kinetics, and metabolic diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, and diabetes. My chemistry weaknesses are that I do not know organic or inorganic synthesis well, nor am I familiar with advanced inorganic reactions. I will attempt quantum mechanics and thermodynamics questions, but primarily as they relate to biological systems. Furthermore, I cannot tell you if a skin photograph is cancerous, or otherwise diagnose any disease. I can tell you how we currently understand the basic science behind a disease state, but I cannot recommend treatment in any way. Please direct such questions to your medical professional.


I hold a PhD in Biomedical Science from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. I specialize in Biochemistry, with a focus on protein chemistry. My thesis work involved the structure and functions of the human glucose transporter 1. (hGLUT1) Currently I am a postdoc working in peptide (mini-protein) design and enzymology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas. I am in Bjorn Steffensen's lab (PhD, DDS), studying gelatinase A and oral carcinoma.

2001 American Association for the Advancement of Science
2007 American Chemical Society
2007 Protein Society
2011 UTHSCSA Women’s Faculty Association

Levine KB, Robichaud TK, Hamill S, Sultzman LA, Carruthers A. Properties of the human erythrocyte glucose transport protein are determined by cellular context. Biochemistry 44(15):5606-16, 2005. (PMID 15823019)
Robichaud TK, Appleyard AN, Herbert RB, Henderson PJ, Carruthers A “Determinants of ligand binding affinity and cooperativity at the GLUT1 endofacial site” Biochemistry 50(15):3137-48, 2011. (PMID 21384913)
Xu X, Mikhailova M, Chen Z, Pal S, Robichaud TK, Lafer EM, Baber S, Steffensen B. “Peptide from the C-terminal domain of tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases-2 (TIMP-2) inhibits membrane activation of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2)” Matrix Biol. 2011 Sep;30(7-8):404-12. (PMID: 21839835)
Robichaud TK, Steffensen B, Fields GB. Exosite interactions impact matrix metalloproteinase collagen specificities. J Biol Chem. 2011 Oct 28;286(43):37535-42 (PMID: 21896477)

Poster Abstracts:
Robichaud TK, Carruthers. A "Mutagenesis of the Human type 1 glucose transporter exit site: A functional study." ACS 234th Meeting, Boston MA. Division of Biological Chemistry, 2007
Robichaud TK, Bhowmick M, Tokmina-Roszyk D, Fields GB “Synthesis and Analysis of MT1-MMP Peptide Inhibitors” Biological Chemistry Division of the Protein Society Meeting, San Diego CA 2010
Robichaud TK; Tokmina-Roszyk D; Steffensen B and Fields GB “Catalytic Domain Exosites Contribute to Determining Matrix Metalloproteinase Triple Helical Collagen Specificities” Dental Science Symposium. UTHSCSA 2011
Robichaud TK; Tokmina-Roszyk D; Steffensen B and Fields GB “Exosite Interactions Determine Matrix Metalloproteinase Specificities” Gordon Research Conference on Matrix Metalloproteinase Biology, Bristol RI 2011

Oakland University, Auburn Hills MI BS, Biochemistry 1998
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester MA PhD, Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology 2001-2008
University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio TX Postdoc, Biochemistry 2009-Present

Awards and Honors
1998 Honors College Graduate, Oakland University
2009 Institutional National Research Service Award, Pathobiology of Occlusive Vascular Disease T32 HL07446
2011 1st Place, Best Postdoctoral Poster, Dental Science Symposium, UTHSCSA, April 2011

Past/Present Clients
Invited Seminars:
Robichaud TK, Fields GB. “Synthesis and Analysis of MTI-MMP Triple Helical Peptide Inhibitors” Pathology Research Conference, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio Pathology Department (June 18th, 2010)
Robichaud TK & Hill, B “How To Give A Great Scientific Talk” Invited Lecture, Pathobiology of Occlusive Vascular Disease Seminars, UTHSCSA (Nov 11th 2010), Cardiology Seminar Series, Texas Research Park (Feb 21st, 2011)
Robichaud TK; Tokmina-Roszyk D; Steffensen B and Fields GB “Exosite Interactions Determine Matrix Metalloproteinase Specificities” Gordon-Keenan Research Seminar “Everything You Wanted to Know About Matrix Metalloproteinases But Were Afraid to Ask” Bristol, RI (Aug 6th, 2011)

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