Medications

Study sheds new light on a promising antidepressant

Ketamine, a well-known anesthetic used in smaller doses as a party drug, was hailed as a "new hope for depression" in a Time magazine cover story in 2017. Two years later, the arrival of the first ketamine-based antidepressant—the ...

Biomedical technology

'Smart' diaper for bedside urine testing

Urine can reveal a lot about a person's health. But physicians don't currently have a convenient or fast way of tracking the concentration of important compounds in their patients' urine. Now, researchers reporting in ACS ...

Genetics

Potassium channel dysfunction in genetic epilepsy

Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered functional links between dozens of potassium channel gene variants and neonatal epilepsy, according to a study published in JCI Insight.

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Potassium

Potassium (pronounced /pɵˈtæsiəm/) is the chemical element with the symbol K (Latin: kalium, from Arabic: القَلْيَه‎ al-qalyah “plant ashes”, cf. Alkali from the same root), atomic number 19, and atomic mass 39.0983. Potassium was first isolated from potash. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white metallic alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the evolved hydrogen.

Potassium in nature occurs only as ionic salt. As such, it is found dissolved in seawater, and as part of many minerals. Potassium ion is necessary for the function of all living cells, and is thus present in all plant and animal tissues. It is found in especially high concentrations in plant cells, and in a mixed diet, it is most highly concentrated in fruits.

In many respects, potassium and sodium are chemically similar, although they have very different functions in organisms in general, and in animal cells in particular.

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