Pharmacology

Though it's commonly thought that most opioid overdoses occur among drug abusers and people who obtain the drugs illegally, a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine links the risk of fatal and nonfatal opioid overdose to prescription use—strongly associating the risk with the prescribed dose.
 
An excess of a particular serotonin receptor in the center of the brain may explain why antidepressants fail to relieve depression symptoms for 50 percent of patients, indicates a new study published in Neuron.

The authors say the study is the first to find a causal link between receptor number and antidepressant treatment and may lead to more personalized treatment for depression, including treatments for patients who do not respond to antidepressants and ways to identify these patients before they undergo costly, and ultimately, futile therapies.
Caffeine is the world's most popular stimulant drug and enjoys the cultural shield of being both legal and acceptable.    A caffeine addiction is considered perfectly normal.

But with soft drink and coffee companies like Starbuck's aggressively marketing to teens and younger there has to be consideration of the effects of acute and chronic caffeine consumption on blood pressure, heart rate and hand tremors.   Just as worrisome, does consuming caffeinated drinks during adolescence contribute to later use of legal or illicit drugs? 
 When it comes to gambling, many millions of people just don't know when to walk away. The behavior can take a tremendous toll on their finances and family life, and currently available treatments are often associated with extremely high relapse rates.

According to new research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP), however, there may be alternative and surprisingly simple treatments available for gambling addicts--medications that decrease urges and increase inhibitions. In other words, medications often used to treat drug abuse.  
If you start smoking cigarettes, chances are you'll become addicted. But that's only part of the story, according to new research published in Psychopharmacology.  After exposing rats to passive smoke and studying how their brains responded, the authors of the studies are suggesting that just being exposed to cigarette smoke may result in nicotine dependence.  

In a set of four experiments on male Wistar rats, researchers investigated whether rats exposed passively to tobacco smoke would become dependent on nicotine.  They specifically looked at how the rats' brains responded to being exposed to tobacco smoke and whether the rats displayed withdrawal symptoms.

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles are found in everything from cosmetics to sunscreen to paint and vitamins, and have caused systemic genetic damage in mice, according to a study conducted by researchers at UCLA’s  Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.  The study appears this week in the journal Cancer Research.

Richard P. Phipps, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, and of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center cautions that during flu vaccination season many common pain killers – Advil, Tylenol, aspirin – at the time of injection may blunt the effect of the shot and have a negative effect on the immune system.

A study by researchers in the Czech Republic reported similar findings in the Oct. 17, 2009, edition of The Lancet. They found that giving acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, to infants weakens the immune response to vaccines. 
With all of the concern/hype/hysteria over vaccines for H1N1 influenza, a team of Alabama researchers say they may have found a way to protect lungs from all strains of the flu—antioxidants. In an article appearing in the FASEB Journal they say that antioxidants might hold the key in preventing the flu virus from wreaking havoc on our lungs. 
Antidepressants are ineffective in fully 50% of the people who take them.   It is clearly early 20th century medicine, where you keep trying things and hope something happens while pharmaceutical companies who impress doctors the most make the most money.

With so much research and money spent on depression studies, how is it possible that it is only as effective as doing nothing at all?  

1)  The cause of depression has been oversimplified.  A study from the laboratory of  depression researcher Eva Redei presented at the Neuroscience 2009 conference in Chicago this week addresses some strongly held beliefs about depression.

Can diet make you less likely to develop depression?   A new report from the University of Navarra published in Archives of General Psychiatry. says people who follow 'Mediterranean dietary pattern' heavier in nuts and fish appear less likely to develop depression.

There is lower prevalence of diagnosed depression in Mediterranean countries than northern European ones, for example, though that could also be a cultural issue - a hundred years ago there was almost no diagnoses in the US because doctors did not diagnose it.