Kainic acid is a chemical first derived from seaweed. Neuroscientists routinely use Kainic acid to simulate brain degeneration in lab experiments. Certain inotropic receptors in the brain--known as kainate receptors--are selectively activated only by kainic acid. Research into kainate receptors helps researchers to understand Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and other brain disorders. Some scientists use kainic acid to find answers to more fundamental questions such as the function of glutamate receptors. Currently, there are two procedures for generating kainic acid commercially. The first involves the farming and collection of kainic acid-containing seaweed and that method is impacted by seasonal fluctuations of seaweed growth and kainic acid production. The second involves synthetic processes, but the current procedures generally require at least 6 synthetic steps with yields less than 40% and generate environmentally toxic byproducts including heavy metals, cyanides, or halogenated organics.