Pharmacology

By Allison Jarrell, Inside Science

For centuries, cinnamon has been used to enhance the flavor of foods, but new research shows that the spice could also help make foods safer.

According to a study by Meijun Zhu and Lina Sheng, food safety scientists at Washington State University in Pullman, the ancient cooking spice could help prevent some of the most serious foodborne illnesses caused by pathogenic bacteria.

A new study has found that carbon monoxide could be used to protect against life-threatening arrhythmias after a heart attack.

Restoring blood flow to the heart following a heart attack can leave patients with ventricular fibrillation, a dangerous heart rhythm which puts people at greater risk of sudden cardiac death. Previous research has shown carbon monoxide, which is produced naturally in heart cells, can guard against ventricular fibrillation, however the mechanism behind why this happens was unknown.

Scientists at Aston University in Birmingham (UK) and Peking University in China have found carbon monoxide works by blocking the channels that carry potassium into heart cells – an essential process required to reset the cells before their next heartbeat.

Women with a vitamin D deficiency were nearly half as likely to conceive through in vitro fertilization (IVF) as women who had sufficient levels of the vitamin, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology&Metabolism.

Long known for its role in bone health, vitamin D is a steroid hormone that is emerging as a factor in fertility. Animal studies have shown that the hormone, which is produced in the skin as a result of sun exposure as well as absorbed from some fortified foods, affects fertility in many mammals.



One of the greatest and most dangerous naturalistic fallacies is that if our ancestors used something, it must be as good or even better than modern science.

In An Account of the Foxglove and Some of its Medical Uses, published in 1785, Sir William Withering cautioned readers that extracts from the plant foxglove, also called digitalis, was not a perfect drug. "Time will fix the real value upon this discovery," he wrote.  


"Doctor shopping" is the term for obtaining narcotic prescriptions by seeking out multiple providers that has led to measurable increases in drug use among postoperative trauma patients.

A new paper links doctor shopping to higher narcotic use among orthopedic patients.  

"There has been an alarming rise in opioid use in our country, and the diversion of opioids for non-therapeutic uses is dramatically increasing," said lead study author and orthopedic surgeon Brent J. Morris, MD. "Many suspect that orthopedic trauma patients may be at a higher risk for pre-injury narcotic use and 'doctor shopping.'"


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved INVOKAMET™, a fixed-dose therapy combining canagliflozin and metformin hydrochloride in a single tablet, for the treatment of adults with type 2 diabetes. INVOKAMET provides the clinical attributes of INVOKANA® (canagliflozin), the first sodium glucose co–transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor available in the United States, together with metformin, which is commonly prescribed early in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. 

Oxazepam, a drug that is commonly used to treat insomnia and anxiety in humans, has been shown to reduce mortality rates in fish when it gets into natural water supplies. 

For their study, researchers retrieved two-year-old Eurasian perch from a lake in Sweden and randomly exposed them to high and low concentrations of Oxazepam, a benzodiazepine which is commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia in humans and regularly contaminates surface waters via treated wastewater effluent. The researchers have previously found that the drug can increase the activity and boldness of Eurasian perch. 


Human milk is obviously baby food, but for sick, hospitalized infants, it's also medicine, according to a series of articles in Advances in Neonatal Care devoted to best practices in providing human milk to hospitalized infants. 

"The immunological and anti-inflammatory properties of human milk are especially important for the critically ill infants in our intensive care units," said Diane L. Spatz, Ph.D., R.N.-B.C., FAAN, nurse researcher and director of the Lactation Program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and the invited guest editor of the August 2014 issue of the journal, published by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.


Aspirin has been linked to a significant reduction in the risk of developing – and dying from – the major cancers of the digestive tract, i.e. bowel, stomach and esophageal cancer in a recent Annals of Oncology paper. Some have been concerned about side effects, such as instances of bleeding, due to aspirin.

The review of the available evidence assessed both the benefits and harms of preventive use of aspirin. The researchers, led by Professor Jack Cuzick, Head of  Queen Mary University of London's Centre for Cancer Prevention, found taking aspirin for 10 years could cut bowel cancer cases by around 35% and deaths by 40%. Rates of esophageal and stomach cancers were cut by 30% and deaths from these cancers by 35-50%.