A mitochondrial malady: stubborn seizures and atypical migraine

A 22-year-old female migraineur presented with recurrent convulsive status epilepticus and ataxia. Her epilepsy proved refractory to treatment, necessitating the use of five anti-epileptic drugs and a course of steroids. Genetic testing revealed compound heterozygosity for two mutations of the polymerase-? gene. The case highlights the clinical features and therapeutic challenges associated with this relatively common, but probably under-recognised, mitochondrial disease.

Hubert Airy, contemporary men of science and the migraine aura

Although there had been occasional references to the visual aura of migraine even in ancient medicine, little attention was given to the phenomenon until the first half of the nineteenth century when French authors began to describe it. In the medicine of English-speaking countries, apart from a few descriptions, it went largely unnoticed until the British Astronomer Royal, Sir George Airy, described his own experience of the visual aura in 1865. Five years later his son, Hubert Airy, also described his experience of it and that of a number of eminent contemporary men of science.

The history of ergot of rye (Claviceps purpurea) II: 1900–1940

Ergot, in 1900, was a ‘chemical mess’. Henry Wellcome, the pharmaceutical manufacturer, invited Henry Hallett Dale, a physiologist, to join his research department and solve this problem. Dale, in turn, recruited an outstanding group of scientists, including George Barger, Arthur Ewins and Harold Dudley, who would make distinguished contributions not only to the chemistry of ergot but also to the identification of acetylcholine, histamine and tyramine and to studies on their physiological effects.