Chemical Biology 3OA3, September 2009 Page 47 EXPERIMENT 6SYNTHESIS OF THE ANTIEPILEPTIC DRUG DILANTIN,BY A BIOMIMETIC SYNTHESISIntroductionThis experiment describes the synthesis of the antiepilepsy drug dilantin. First however, a few words about the causes of epilepsy and its control. In the body a signal from a sensory organ is transmitted along a nerve fiber until it reaches the end of the cell, called the synapse. At the synapse the arriving electrical signal induces the release of a chemical neurotransmitter that diffuses across the synaptic gulf, a short distance of about 100Å that separates the end of one nerve cell and the beginning of another, where it triggers another electrical signal in the next nerve fiber. Thus nerve transmission is a combination of chemical and electrical signals. In the brain many simultaneous signals are involved and the signal flow is controlled, in part, by the plasma level of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The GABA level, to offer a simplistic analogy, is like the gain control on a public address system in an auditorium.
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