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Coffee May Reduce Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer in Men

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110517162030.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29&utm_content=Google+International 'Men who regularly drink coffee appear to have a lower risk of developing a lethal form of prostate cancer, according to a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. What's more, the lower risk was evident among men who drank either regular or decaffeinated coffee. "Few studies have specifically studied the association of coffee intake and the risk of lethal prostate cancer, the form of the disease that is the most critical to prevent. Our study is the largest to date to examine whether coffee could lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer," said senior author Lorelei Mucci, associate professor of epidemiology at HSPH. Lethal prostate cancer is cancer that causes death or spreads to the bones. The researchers chose to study coffee because it contains many beneficial compounds that act as antioxidants, reduce inflammation, and regulate insulin, all of which may influence prostate cancer. Coffee has been associated in prior studies with a lower risk of Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstone disease, and liver cancer or cirrhosis.' The study was published May 17, 2011, in an online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Letting the qat out of the bag…

http://blogs.reuters.com/oddly-enough/2011/05/16/letting-the-qat-out-of-the-bag/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2Fblogs%2Foddly-enough+%28Blogs+%2F+US+%2F+Oddly+Enough%29&utm_content=Google+International Just liked their qat filled faces:

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Cannabis Hope for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091220175502.htm 'Chemicals found in cannabis could prove an effective treatment for the inflammatory bowel diseases Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease, say scientists. Laboratory tests have shown that two compounds found in the cannabis plant -- the cannabinoids THC and cannabidiol -- interact with the body's system that controls gut function. Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, which affect about one in every 250 people in Northern Europe, are caused by both genetic and environmental factors. The researchers believe that a genetic susceptibility coupled with other triggers, such as diet, stress or bacterial imbalance, leads to a defective immune response. Dr Karen Wright, Peel Trust Lecturer in Biomedicine at Lancaster University, presented her soon-to-be published work at The British Pharmacological Society's Winter Meeting in London. She said: "The lining of the intestines provides a barrier against the contents of the gut but in people with Crohn's Disease this barrier leaks and bacteria can escape into the intestinal tissue leading to an inappropriate immune response. "If we could find a way to restore barrier integrity in patients we may be able to curb the inflammatory immune response that causes these chronic conditions." Dr Wright, working with colleagues at the School of Graduate Entry Medicine and Health in Derby, has shown that cells that react to cannabinoid compounds play an important role in normal gut function as well as the immune system's inflammatory response. "The body produces its own cannabinoid molecules, called endocannabinoids, which we have shown increase the permeability of the epithelium during inflammation, implying that overproduction may be detrimental," said Dr Wright. "However, we were able to reverse this process using plant-derived cannabinoids, which appeared to allow the epithelial cells to form tighter bonds with each other and restore the membrane barrier."' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Use and Misuse of Alcohol and Marijuana Can Be Traced to Common Set of Genes

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091219073005.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+(ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News)&utm_content=Google+International 'Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Roughly eight to 12 percent of marijuana users are considered "dependent" and, just like alcohol, the severity of symptoms increases with heavier use. A new study has found that use and misuse of alcohol and marijuana are influenced by a common set of genes. Results will be published in the March 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. "Results from a large annual survey of high-school students show that in 2008, 41.8 percent of 12th graders reported having used marijuana," explained Carolyn E. Sartor, a research instructor at Washington University School of Medicine and corresponding author for the study. "Although many may have used the drug on only a few occasions, 5.4 percent of 12th graders reported using it daily within the preceding month." "The active ingredient in marijuana is THC, which mimics natural cannabinoids that the brain produces," added Christian Hopfer, associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "The cannabinoid system is critical for learning, memory, appetite, and pain perception. Most users of marijuana will not develop an 'addiction' to it, but perhaps one in 12 will. What is not commonly appreciated about marijuana use is that strong evidence has emerged that it increases the risk of developing mental illnesses and possibly exacerbates pre-existing mental illnesses." "Like any drug, marijuana can be used in a way that negatively impacts quality of life, interfering with functioning at school or work or leading to problems with family and friends," said Sartor. "Although at least three of six symptoms listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -- Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) are needed to meet full criteria for cannabis (marijuana) dependence … the presence of even one or two of these symptoms could create distress or interfere with day-to-day functioning. There is strong evidence for a genetic component to use and dependence on marijuana as well as alcohol, and the use (and misuse) of these substances frequently occur together."' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

New Biosensors Reveal Workings of Anti-Psychotic Drugs in the Living Brain

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091213164707.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+(ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News)&utm_content=Google+International "Scientists have resolved a question about how a popular class of drugs used to treat schizophrenia works using biosensors that reveal previously hidden components of chemical communication in the brain. Although delusions and hallucinations characterize the illness, people with schizophrenia also struggle to sustain attention or recall information in a particular order, difficulties that interfere with their ability to hold a job or function well, said Lee Schroeder, a student in the medical scientist training program at the University of California, San Diego. A class of drugs called atypical neuroleptics has become the most commonly prescribed treatment for schizophrenia, in part for their ability to improve these cognitive functions. How they altered brain chemistry was uncertain, however. Atypical neuroleptics elicit large releases of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. But they had also been shown to barricade a particular type of receptor on the receiving cell's surface, which would block the message. The question was, which action prevails? The answer might guide the development of more effective drugs with fewer side effects. "The hunt is now on," said Schroeder, who shares lead authorship on the paper. "What about these drugs helps? That's where our cells come in." To find out, the team designed biological cells that change color when acetylcholine latches onto this particular class of receptors, called M1. That allowed them to see when M1 receptors received the chemical message, an event neuroscientists had previously been unable to detect in a living, intact brain. "It's a world of signaling between cells that we were blind to before," said David Kleinfeld, professor of physics and member of UC San Diego's center for neural circuits and behavior, who led the collaboration that invented the system." [...] Cells called CNiFERs (pronounced "sniffers") change color to reveal specific kinds of neural messages. (Credit: Kleinfeld Lab, UC San Diego)

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Pot shows promise for reducing multiple sclerosis patients' symptoms

http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/pos...mult-2009-12-02 'Doses of cannabis might help multiple sclerosis (MS) patients subdue their body spasms and move about more easily, according to a new review of recent studies. However, the authors of the paper note, the patients' apparent relief could also be a matter of perception. After reviewing six trials that tested the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) extracts on muscle spasms in a total of 481 MS patients, the authors found "evidence that combined THC and CBD extracts may provide therapeutic benefit." In five of the six double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials the researchers analyzed, cannabis-taking patients reported decreases in their spasms. "The subjective experience of symptom reduction was generally found to be significant," wrote the authors, based at the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation in Los Angeles. However, the authors conceded, "participants of both active and placebo trials may not be entirely blind to their treatment status, and this may affect subjective analysis." So despite the promising patient reports, MS patients might not get a green light for this treatment just yet. "Objective measures of spasticity failed to provide significant changes," the authors concluded in the paper, published online Wednesday in the journal BMC Neurology. Cannabinoids have, however, been shown to offer neuro-protective benefits for MS patients by quelling inflammation through regulation of microglial cells' cytokine levels, and animal studies have revealed antispastic effects of the chemicals.' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Waterpipe Tobacco Smokers Inhale Same Toxicants as Cigarette Smokers

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/...e+International 'Smoking tobacco through a waterpipe exposes the user to the same toxicants -- carbon monoxide and nicotine -- as puffing on a cigarette, which could lead to nicotine addiction and heart disease, according to a study led by a Virginia Commonwealth University researcher published in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. In the past eight to 10 years, smoking tobacco with a waterpipe, also called a hookah or shisha, has grown in popularity in the United States, especially among adults 18 to 24. The belief among some waterpipe users is that this method of smoking tobacco delivers less tar and nicotine than regular cigarette smoking and has fewer adverse health effects. "The results are important because they provide concrete, scientific evidence that contradicts the oft-repeated myth that waterpipe tobacco smoking does not involve users inhaling the same harmful chemicals that cigarette smokers do," said principal investigator Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., professor in the VCU Department of Psychology. "We hope that these results will be used by physicians and public health officials to inform waterpipe tobacco smokers that they risk tobacco-induced nicotine addiction and cardiovascular disease," he said.' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Drug chief sacking could stifle 'polydrug' research

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1809...ref=online-news 'Vital investigations into unexplored aspects of recreational drug use could be abandoned following the removal of the UK government's top scientific adviser on drug misuse. They include investigations of the impact of polydrug use, for example, in which individuals are simultaneously dependent on several drugs. Last week, David Nutt of Imperial College London was sacked as chairman of the UK's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. UK home secretary Alan Johnson wrote in The Guardian newspaper on 31 October that he took this action because Nutt had attacked government policy. Johnson was annoyed that Nutt had repeated in public that there's substantial evidence demonstrating alcohol and tobacco to be far more harmful than either cannabis or ecstasy.' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Bush medicine could make safer implants: research

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/23/2473297.htm 'An extract from a flowering desert plant used as traditional medicine by Indigenous Australians could one day be used to coat hip transplants and other biomedical devices, researchers say. Professor Hans Griesser and colleagues are presenting their work at a biomaterials conference at the University of New South Wales in Sydney this week. "We can learn so much from nature and traditional knowledge," says Professor Griesser, a materials scientist from the University of South Australia. He says Aboriginal people use leaves of eremophila plants, which grow in Australia's desert areas, to make ointments for skin abrasions and gargles for throat infections. Professor Griesser and team extracted eleven compounds called "serrulatane diterpenes" from the leaves of eremophila and found they had the same bacterial killing power as established antibiotics. The researchers then developed a method of permanently bonding the compounds to plastic and metal materials used to make implants such as catheters, heart valves, hip or knee implants. Professor Griesser says antibacterial coatings on implants are important because those devices provide a perfect site for bacteria to become established. He adds this could lead to serious infection or death of the implant recipient. "If someone in their 70s has an artificial hip inserted and then they have an inflammation and have to go back to get the hip taken out and another put in, that's traumatic for someone who is already compromised health-wise," he said. He says the problem with traditional antibiotics like penicillin is they do not work well when they are on the surface of a biomedical device. In tests using staphyloccocus epidermis over 48 hours, the team found a very thin layer of the antibacterial coating stopped nearly all bacteria from attaching to the devices.' [...] Aboriginal people use leaves of eremophila plants to make ointments for skin abrasions and gargles for throat infections. (Hans Griesser)

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Salvia on Schedule: Law, Medicine and a Hallucinogen

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article....via-on-schedule "As the source of the most powerful natural hallucinogen known, salvia is drawing scrutiny from U.S. authorities who want to restrict this Mexican herb, now used recreation­ally by some. But neuro­scientists worry that controlling it before studies have determined its safety profile is premature and could hamper research of the drug's medicinal value. Increasingly, evidence is piling up that it could lead to new and safer anti­depressants and pain relievers, as well as even help in improving treatments for such mental illnesses as schizophrenia and addiction. The plant, formally known as Salvia divinorum, has a long tradition of shamanic usage by the Mazatec people of central Mexico. Salvinorin A, the primary psychoactive component, is part of a class of naturally occurring organic chemicals called diterpenoids, and it affects neural receptors in the brain similar to those that respond to opiate painkillers such as morphine—but without euphoric and addictive properties. That is because salvinorin A binds mostly to only one type of receptor (the so-called kappa opioid receptor) and not significantly to receptors that could lead to addiction (such as the mu opioid receptor). As the popularity of salvia has risen over the past 16 years—its psychoactive properties were discovered in 1993 by Daniel Siebert, an independent ethnobotanist based in Malibu, Calif.—calls to treat the plant as an illegal drug have grown louder. Twelve states have recently placed S. divinorum in their most restrictive controlled substance category, and four others have laws restricting sales. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has listed salvia as “a drug of concern” and is looking into the drug to determine whether it should be declared a Schedule I controlled substance, on par with heroin and LSD." [...] ALTERED STATES: The Mexican herb Salvia divinorum contains the most powerful natural hallucinogen known. Scientists think that it could treat several types of mood disorders but worry that regulations could stonewall research.

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

6-Year-Old Drives After Mom Smokes “That Stinky Stuff”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32778137 ‘A Coatesville mother made her 6-year-old daughter drive a car because “[mom] was sleepy” after smoking “that stinky stuff,” according to police. [..] Officer Robert Keetch said he had to do a double take after seeing the little girl driving. “There were two white knuckles and a little head popping over the stearing wheel,” he said. The woman, Lakisha Hogue, was sitting in the passenger seat, laughing, when a patrol officer pulled her over, said police. Hogue told the Officer Keetch that she was teaching her daughter how to drive. “Mom made me drive because she was sleepy,” the girl told police. Then police say the aunt asked her niece, “Was your mom smoking that stinky stuff again?” The girl replied “yes,” say police.’ [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

HERBAL HIGHS WILL SOON BE AS RARE AS HEROIN, SAY EXPERTS

http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society...s-200908252006/ 'Government plans to ban so called 'herbal highs' will make the drugs as rare as a largely forgotten narcotic known as heroin, experts claimed last night. Minsters are drawing up legislation to outlaw a range of legal drugs currently available through the internet including GBL, BFD, JML, KKK, and JJB Sports. Professor Henry Brubaker of the Institute for Studies said: "History teaches us time and time again that banning drugs is a completely marvellous idea. "After heroin was banned in 1924, use of the drug immediately ceased and there have been only three documented cases of heroin abuse in the last 85 years, all of them foreigners. "Similarly a drug called cocaine used to be very popular until it was made illegal. Not surprisingly, all the people who manufactured it immediately stopped and either joined the Red Cross or became primary school teachers." He added: "Just think, if heroin and cocaine had not been banned then millions of people could have become addicted and it may even have led to the creation of a multi-trillion dollar industry run by insanely violent criminals called 'Pablo'." A spokesman for the department of health said: "Our research shows that no-one is going to go to all the bother of selling these drugs illegally. Why would they? Are drug dealers really that interested in money? I think not." He added: "Even if they did, it is extremely unlikely the drugs would suddenly become more dangerous and expensive. And anyway, it's not as if anyone is going to steal things or mug old ladies just so they can buy drugs. I'd imagine that drug addicts, if they even existed, would be much more sensible than that." Professor Brubaker said: "When tackling the threat of drugs you need just four things; an understanding of history, a dollop of wisdom, a dash of foresight and an extra dollop of wisdom. "Well done everyone. Well done."' Afghans use poppies to flavour soup

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Briefing: Cannabis compounds fight prostate cancer

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1763...ref=online-news 'Compounds similar to those found in cannabis have been shown to stop prostate cancer cells from multiplying. Two cannabinoid compounds, JWH-015 and MET, stopped prostate tumour growth in human prostate cells in Petri dishes and also in mice with the disease. They halted the cell-division cycle and killed the cancer cells, and had the greatest effect on aggressive prostate cancer cell types, which do not respond to hormone treatments . Some 192,000 men in the US alone are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, and researchers Inés Díaz-Laviada Marturet at the University of Alcalá, Spain, and her colleagues say the results could offer hope to those affected. But before you go looking for a dealer, New Scientist answers a few questions. Does this mean that smoking dope can protect against prostate cancer? No. The findings do not imply that smoking cannabis can prevent or treat prostate cancer. Even aside from the harm to health that is associated with dope smoking, the cannabinoid compounds that this study tested are synthetic chemicals not found in cannabis plants, so no conclusions about the actual stuff can be drawn. So if I shouldn't smoke cannabis to fight cancer, how can I use cannabinoids? The chemicals that have been tested could eventually be used to develop prostate cancer treatments. These treatments would not be the same as cannabis – they would simply contain cannabis-like chemicals as the active ingredients. Would cannabis-derived drugs would make patients feel stoned? No. No drug developed from these compounds would affect the mind as cannabis use does. There are two types of receptor in the prostate to which cannabinoid compounds can attach. Both types are found in the brain but only one is associated with the psychotropic effects of using cannabis. Díaz-Laviada Marturet's research looked specifically at cannabinoid compounds that attach to the CB2 receptor – the one not associated with psychotropic effects. Haven't cannabis chemicals already been found to protect against cancer? There is a long list of cancers for which cannabinoids are thought to have a therapeutic benefit. This list includes leukaemia, lung and colon cancer. So when will we see cannabis-derived anti-cancer drugs on the market? Prostate cancer treatments based on these cannabis chemicals are still a long way from clinical trial. The chemicals tested have been shown to be effective both in cell cultures and in mice, but a lot more needs to be found out about these chemicals before anti-cancer drugs can be developed. The Prostate Cancer Charity advises a healthy diet and lifestyle and recommends that as the symptoms of prostate cancer and other prostate problems can be similar, it is important to get a proper diagnosis because other treatments are already available.'

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Cocaine Contaminates Majority of U.S. Currency

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article....erican-currency 'For cocaine users, a rolled up $20 bill may be the most convenient tool for snorting the powder form of the drug. Or so it would seem from a new analysis of 234 banknotes from 18 U.S. cities that found cocaine on 90 percent of the bills tested. Perhaps that's not surprising given that the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that more than 2 million Americans used cocaine in 2007, which has been linked to ill effects ranging from debilitating addiction to heart attacks. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, for its part, reported in the same year that 6 million Americans admit using cocaine annually, consuming a total of as much as 457 metric tons in a year. "That city ranked highest in the survey—95 percent of the sampled bills there bore cocaine contamination—along with Baltimore, Boston and Detroit. Salt Lake City had the lowest average levels of contamination. "The examination of cocaine contamination on paper money can provide objective and timely epidemiological information about cocaine abuse in individual communities," Zuo argues. What might be more surprising is the fact that the percentage of contaminated bills seems to be rising; just two years ago, Zuo did a similar study that found cocaine on only 67 percent of banknotes in Massachusetts. "It is too early to draw a conclusion about why," Zuo says. "The economic downturn may partly contribute to the jump." Levels of cocaine ranged from .006 micrograms to more than 1,240 micrograms—the equivalent of 50 grains of sand—on U.S. bills, and $5, $10 and $20 bills on average carried more contamination than $1 or $100 bills.' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Shakeups at the FDA lead to an investigation and a resignation

http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/60-...inve-2009-08-12 'Two leaders at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recently found themselves in hot water at the agency. The director of drug approval has been named in an ethics investigation and a head medical device regulator has resigned. The agency's director of the medical device division, Daniel Schultz, resigned yesterday after 15 years with the group. He had been accused of siding with industry suppliers, against scientific recommendations, during his five-year tenure leading the division, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Schultz was involved in several controversial approvals, including a ReGen Biologics device used in knee surgery, which, according the Journal, had been permitted despite years of opposition from reviewers and scientists. Agency researchers reportedly described internal pressure to approve devices despite questionable safety or efficacy. "There are too many devices on the market that are not proven safe and not proven effective," Diana Zuckerman, of the National Research Center for Women and Families in Washington, told Reuters. Schultz said his departure "would be in the best interest of the center and the agency," an FDA memo said, according to the Associated Press. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg named Jeff Shuren, the associate commissioner, as a temporary replacement. Meanwhile, the FDA's head of drug evaluation is now under investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general for a conflict-of-interest allegation. While leading the drug evaluation and research division, Janet Woodcock has occasionally collaborated with a senior scientist from Momenta Pharmaceuticals, a company that is in competition with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals to gain approval for a generic version of the $3.5 billion-a-year blood-thinning drug Lovenox (sold by Sanofi-Aventis SA), the Journal reports. ' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

A Biochemical Way to Reduce Drug Side Effects?

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article....l-way-to-reduce 'Key Concepts * A new drug discovery approach focuses on a property known as allosterism. * Allosteric drugs attach to biological molecules at binding sites distinct from those usually targeted by medications. * Instead of activating or inhibiting the bound molecules, as classic drugs do, allosteric types can act more like dimmer switches and might, at times, cause fewer side effects. * Such agents may be able to treat disorders that lack drug therapies today. Despite what the overcrowded, overpriced shelves of your pharmacy might suggest, pharmaceutical companies struggle to find new drugs these days. The low-hanging fruit is long gone, and the main discovery method that served so well in past decades is generating far fewer hits today. But a fresh strategy, focused on a property called allosterism, is now invigorating many investigators. Some predict it will revolutionize drug discovery and could deliver treatments for diseases that so far remain intractable. Historically, scientists have developed drugs by finding molecules that mimic the behavior of our body's signaling molecules, such as hormones and neurotransmitters. The pharmaceutical doppelgangers of such endogenous substances latch onto cell-surface receptor molecules exactly where the native substances bind. If a mimic fits snugly into the binding pocket, known as the "active" site, it will activate the receptor, triggering a biochemical cascade within the cell. If the mimic has a slightly different shape, it will do the opposite, impeding the cascade. Most drugs on the market today—allergy medicines, beta blockers, antipsychotic drugs—act in one of those ways. Problem is, such drugs have an all-or-nothing effect. They stimulate or repress physiological pathways, leaving no room for normal fluctuations in activity. And because the body has evolved to use the same chemicals for multiple purposes, one endogenous molecule often binds to a range of receptor subtypes, each responsible for different tasks—so drugs intended to replicate the action of, say, a given neurotransmitter on just one subtype may end up affecting many subtypes, leading to side effects. These limitations have made it impossible for scientists to find safe therapies for some diseases. Thanks to a few serendipitous discoveries arising from an upgrade in technology, pharmaceutical companies are now moving beyond mimicry drugs. They are on the hunt for agents that interact with receptor regions that are geographically distinct from where a body’s chemicals bind. These allosteric drugs, as they are called—allosteric means “other site”—can interact with unique domains on receptor subtypes, thus limiting side effects by affecting only a narrow set of receptors possessing those domains. And the new agents are not mere on-off switches; they can have nuanced effects, ramping up or down the activity of a signaling pathway as needed.' [...] Therapeutic agents known as allosteric ("other site") modulators take aim at targets outside of where classic drugs, and the body's own substances, normally hit selected molecules in the body.

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Dieting could lead to a positive test for cannabis

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg2032...ref=online-news 'CANNABIS smokers beware: stress or dieting might trigger "reintoxication", resulting in a positive drug test long after you last used the drug. The main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and once in the body it is readily absorbed into fat cells. Over the next few days it slowly diffuses back into the blood. Since THC is taken up by fat more readily than it diffuses out, continual intake means some THC can remain in the fat cells. It has been suggested that stored THC can be released at a later date in situations where the body's fat is rapidly broken down. This is based on anecdotal reports of spikes in blood cannabinoid levels in people who have not taken the drug recently but have experienced extreme stress or rapid weight loss. Jonathon Arnold at the University of Sydney, Australia, cites the example of an athlete who swore he hadn't smoked cannabis in months but who had rapidly lost 4 kilograms just before a positive drug test. To investigate whether rapid breakdown of body fat could have been responsible, Arnold and colleague Iain McGregor first exposed THC-laden fat cells taken from rats to the stress hormone ACTH. They found that the hormone increased the speed of release of THC from the cells. Then they injected rats with 10 milligrams per kilogram of THC (equivalent to a person smoking between five and 10 cannabis cigarettes, depending on their strength) every day for 10 days. Two days later, they injected a third of the rats with ACTH, deprived another third of food for 24 hours, with the rest as controls. Subsequent blood tests showed that rats that were food deprived had double the blood level of THC acid, a metabolite of THC, compared with the controls. Those that were exposed to ACTH also showed a statistically significant increase in THC acid levels. The study has been accepted for publication by the British Journal of Pharmacology.' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

How Marijuana Causes Memory Deficits

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/...90803123240.htm 'Memory loss associated with marijuana use is caused by the drug’s interference with the brain’s natural protein synthesis machinery, according to a study published in Nature Neuroscience. Though it has been documented that marijuana impairs memory, the precise mechanism for this memory impairment was previously unknown. Andrés Ozaita, of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain, along with colleagues in France and Germany, focused on THC, the main psychoactive chemical compound in marijuana, which acts on a specific class of receptors known as cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are known to affect the connection strength between neurons. The scientists found that THC increases the activity of a pathway that promotes protein synthesis in the mouse brain. This transient increase of protein synthesis was mediated specifically by cannabinoid receptors expressed on the brain’s inhibitory neurons, and correlated with long-term memory deficits in mice. Interestingly, the authors also found that inhibition of this signaling pathway by rapamycin, an immunosuppressant drug used to prevent organ rejection following transplantation, prevents THC-induced amnesia in mice.'

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Do ADHD Drugs Take a Toll on the Brain?

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article....ugs-take-a-toll 'Research hints that hidden risks might accompany long-term use of the medicines that treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Set Of Genes Contributes To Stress; Possible Drug-Taking Behavior Discovered

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/...90713222216.htm 'A Baylor University researcher has found a set of genes that modulates stress responses that could cause some people to take drugs, specifically alcohol consumption. The study by Dr. Doug Matthews,* professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor, appeared in the journal Behavior Genetics. Matthews found a small section on chromosome one that is responsive to a particular type of stress in animal models. The researchers then identified the genes in this region that could be responsible for the behavioral response to stress, like alcohol consumption. The study is the first to pinpoint a region on the chromosomes that could be responsible for modulating stress responses involved in complex behaviors like drug abuse. “This study gives us insight into a common genetic pathway for stress that might be critical in modulating drug taking behavior, especially alcohol consumption since many people report drinking alcohol to reduce stress,” Matthews said. “It also gave us some ideas on where to look in the brain for drug taking behavior and it provided a method to do so.”' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Active Ingredient In Cannabis Eliminates Morphine Dependence In Rats

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/...90706090440.htm 'Injections of THC, the active principle of cannabis, eliminate dependence on opiates (morphine, heroin) in rats deprived of their mothers at birth. The findings could lead to therapeutic alternatives to existing substitution treatments. In order to study psychiatric disorders, neurobiologists use animal models, especially maternal deprivation models. Depriving rats of their mothers for several hours a day after their birth leads to a lack of care and to early stress. The lack of care, which takes place during a period of intense neuronal development, is liable to cause lasting brain dysfunction. The study was carried out by Valérie Daugé and her team at the Laboratory for Physiopathology of Diseases of the Central Nervous System (UPMC / CNRS / INSERM). Valérie Daugé's team at the Laboratory for Physiopathology of Diseases of the Central Nervous System (UPMC / CNRS / Inserm) analyzed the effects of maternal deprivation combined with injections of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main active principle in cannabis, on behavior with regard to opiates.' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Stoned wallabies make crop circles

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8118257.stm 'Australian wallabies are eating opium poppies and creating crop circles as they hop around “as high as a kite”, a government official has said. Lara Giddings, the attorney general for the island state of Tasmania, said the kangaroo-like marsupials were getting into poppy fields grown for medicine. She was reporting to a parliamentary hearing on security for poppy crops. [..] Rick Rockliff, a spokesman for poppy producer Tasmanian Alkaloids, said the wallaby incursions were not very common, but other animals had also been spotted in the poppy fields acting unusually. “There have been many stories about sheep that have eaten some of the poppies after harvesting and they all walk around in circles,” he added.'

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Discoveries Upend Traditional Thinking About How Plants Make Certain Compounds

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/...90526094249.htm 'Michigan State University plant scientists have identified two new genes and two new enzymes in tomato plants. Those findings led them to discover that the plants were making monoterpenes, compounds that help give tomato leaves their distinctive smell, in a way that flies in the face of accepted thought. Such research could help researchers find new ways to protect plants from pests. Based on years of research, scientists thought that plants always used a specific compound, geranyl diphosphate, to make monoterpenes. But MSU biochemistry and molecular biology scientists Anthony Schilmiller and Rob Last were part of a research team that has found that tomato plants use a different compound, neryl diphosphate, as the substrate for making monoterpenes. The difference is subtle, but the discovery will change the way terpene (compounds that are responsible for the taste and smell of many plants) research is done. The research is published in the May 25 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Essentially, this work subverts the dominant paradigm about an important and widespread pathway in plants," Last explained. "For years it was known that monoterpenes are made in a specific way. But there were cases where that pathway likely wasn't involved, given the kinds of compounds found in specific plants. We showed that in tomato trichomes (small hair cells located mainly on the plant's leaves and stems), the established pathway is wrong. In the tomato trichome, two enzymes work together to make the monoterpenes in a previously unsuspected way." The two newly identified genes, neryl diphosphate synthase 1 (NDPS1) and phellandrene synthase 1 (PHS1), cause the tomato plant to make the new enzymes that produce the monoterpenes.' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Comment: Get real, drug czars

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg2022...ref=online-news 'ELEVEN years ago, the UN pledged to win the war on drugs within a decade. It has failed. At this year's meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, held in Vienna in March, there was a two-day session to evaluate the progress since 1998. In his opening remarks, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, claimed "measurable progress". The drug problem has been "contained", he said, and drug use has "stabilised". Costa's position flies in the face of the evidence, and by the end of the meeting he was on the defensive. But he said the goal remains the same, and he reiterated the UN's position: that the choice for the world's nations is either to apply strict prohibition or concede to total legalisation. Soon after the meeting, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, acknowledged the failure to stamp out poppy farming in Afghanistan. Of the US expenditure of over $800 million a year on counter-narcotics, Holbrooke said: "We have gotten nothing out of it, nothing." Those in charge of the world's drug control system seem more committed to maintaining the existing policy than to addressing its failures. International discussions on the subject have become absurd, and nowhere is this more apparent than with cannabis. Although cannabis amounts to perhaps 80 per cent of total global illicit drug use, there was scarcely any mention of it in Vienna.' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

 

Cocaine: Perceived As A Reward By The Brain?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/...90519134706.htm 'Cocaine is one of the oldest drugs known to humans, and its abuse has become widespread since the end of the 19th century. At the same time, we know rather little about its effects on the human brain or the mechanisms that lead to cocaine addiction. The latest article by Dr. Marco Leyton, of the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), McGill University and the McGill University Health Centre, which was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry on May 15, 2009, not only demonstrates a link between cocaine and the reward circuits in the brain but also associates the susceptibility to addiction with these mechanisms. The results of this study show that sniffing cocaine triggers high levels of dopamine secretion in a central region of the brain called the striatum. Dopamine is known to play a critical role in the brain's response to reward as well as in its response to addictive drugs. This study was carried out in ten non-addicted users of cocaine, all of whom sniffed cocaine on one test day and placebo powder on another. Participants underwent blood tests before and after taking the drug, and dopamine release in the brain was measured using PET scans. "The ability of cocaine to activate dopamine release varies markedly from person to person. Our study suggests that this is related to how much of the drug the person consumed in the past," explained Dr. Leyton. The more cocaine someone has used in his or her lifetime, the more the brain will secrete dopamine during subsequent cocaine use. "It's possible therefore that the intensity of the reward-circuit response is related to increased susceptibility to addiction," stated Dr. Leyton.' [...]

Ed Dunkel

Ed Dunkel

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