(1) In order to express a definite opinion as to the presence or
absence of strychnine in purified extracts of specimens of organs,
etc., it is essential that the following tests be conducted: (a) taste
test, (b) colour test, and (c) a biological test. Immature white mice
are for various reasons more suited to the biological test than frogs,
(Rana esculenta, Rana pipiens, Rana palustris, Rana aqualensis).
It is definite that very unreliable and inaccurate results will be
obtained if both the colour and biological tests for strychnine are not
applied to extracts as a large number of chemical substances, including ptomaines, are known which yield positive results either with the colour test, or with the biological test for strychnine. Many of these substances also have a bitter taste. The greatest care should be
exercised in expressing an opinion as to the presence of strychnine
in decomposed carcasses and corpses. The author isolated a strychnine-like ptomaine(s) from a decomposed liver, which was known not to contain any strychnine. This ptomaine(s) had a bitter taste and gave a positive sulphuric acid-potassium bichromate test for
strychnine. The results of taste, chemical and biological tests with
unidentified and identified ptomaines are recorded.
(2) If three weeks old white mice are used in the biological test
at least 0.008 mgm. strychnine sulphate is required in order to
produce recognisable strychnine spasms in a mouse weighing 10 to 12
gm. With 14 day old white mice weighing 5 to 6 gm. 0.004 mgm.
strychnine sulphate is detectable. In order to achieve reliable results
in the detection of strychnine in purified extracts of organs, etc.,
at least 0.011 mgm. strychnine sulphate should be present as approximately 0.007 mgm. is required for the Otto test and 0.004 mgm. For the biological test if this is conducted upon 14-day old white mice weighing from 5 to 6 gm. If three-weeks-old white mice are employed the least amount of strychnine detectable in extracts is 0.015 mgm. if both the Otto and biological tests are conducted.
(3) The symptoms of strychnine poisoning in white mice and in the frog (Rana aqualensis) are described.
(4) The taste test and chemical and biological tests for strychnine
(5) Factors responsible for the disappearance of strychnine from
corpses and carcasses are discussed. Of four dogs killed with
strychnine and exhumed ten weeks after death strychnine was
detectable in three carcasses, whilst of four carcasses exhumed
eighteen weeks after death only one was positive for strychnine.
Eleven months after death eight carcasses of dogs killed with
strychnine were exhumed and strychnine was detectable in only four
of these. Subsequent exhumations of carcasses of dogs killed with
strychnine and of control dogs are to be conducted.
(6) Methods of extracting strychnine from carcasses and corpses
and of purifying these extracts are discussed.
(7) In fresh carcasses and corpses the most suitable organs for
analysis for the presence of strychnine are liver, stomach, spleen,
lung and the central nervous system; also the urine.
(8) In two out of three dogs, which had received strychnine as a
tonic, strychnine was detectable in the liver and stomach (plus contents).
(9) A large number of chemical substances, which resemble
strychnine chemically and biologically, are discussed.
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