Pharmacology

A 10-year retrospective study of 383 children is the first to examine the prevalence of positive drug screens in pediatric patients undergoing  multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) for narcolepsy.

The results in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine showed that 43 percent of children with urine drug screens positive for marijuana actually had test results consistent with narcolepsy or abnormal REM sleep patterns. No child younger than 13 years of age had a positive urine drug screen. The data showed that males were more likely to have a positive urine drug screen and MSLT findings consistent with narcolepsy.  
Virginia state legislators just passed a bill that makes cannabidiol and delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (THC-acid or THCA) legal for the treatment of intractable epilepsy. You can read the bill here.

The problem is that while there is some evidence that cannabidiol might help treat intractable epilepsy, for which GW pharmaceuticals is testing Epidolex, there is little evidence for THCA.
Treatment with creatine monohydrate for at least 5 years for patients with early and treated Parkinson disease failed to slow clinical progression of the disease, compared with placebo, according to a study in the February 10 issue of JAMA.
In 2011, in Washington, DC, Dr. Robert Shiller, an economics professor at Yale, gave a seminar at the Society for Neuroscience meeting as a special “Dialogue Between Neuroscience and Society.” You can watch the seminar here. His presentation got me thinking about how supply and demand dynamics in economics might help me better understand biological processes.

As a pharmacologist, I work with a very simple supply and demand dynamic. On a basic level, I am interested in how a drug interacts with a receptor. To this end, when I have taught classes, I try to incorporate simple finance to help students understand how drugs interact with biological systems. I will provide a simple example today.

According to a new paper, policymakers must look beyond painkiller abuse in their efforts to reduce opioid overdose deaths.

In a comprehensive investigation, the scientists show that since 2002, new cases of non-medical abuse have declined, yet painkiller overdose deaths have soared - evidence that recreational use of painkillers is not a key driver of the opioid crisis.

The authors suggest that policymakers should instead focus on preventing new cases of opioid addiction caused by both medical and non-medical use and expanding access to opioid addiction treatment.



Carl Djerassi. Boris Roessler/EPA

By Sonia Oreffice, Professor of Economics at University of Surrey

Carl Djerassi, who died recently aged 91, has been honored globally for his work.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a relatively rare congenital disease which causes muscle degeneration and eventual death in teenagers.  

Around 1 in 3500 newborns is affected and by approximately 10 years of age, Duchenne patients are dependent on a wheelchair and in increasing need for care. They are not expected to make it to their late 20s and often die from heart or respiratory failure.

There is no current cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy  but recently researchers from Bern, France, England and Sweden tested a promising active substance successfully.
Preventing heart disease with Vitamin BS

By David Seres, M.D. and Josh Bloom, Ph.D. 

It is not surprising when headlines—particularly those related to health issues—inaccurately convey the take home message from a given study. But, often it goes well beyond simple inaccuracy. 
There are some students in the department I work in who made a music video because they don't have enough funding to do experiments.

http://wp.vcu.edu/somdiscoveries/2014/11/student-scientists-parody-video...

As another parody, I am bringing up the recent biosketch controversy. Basically, Republicans are absolutely convinced that scientists just waste taxpayer money all day, even though they need us to prove their points as long as we agree with them. Democrats also are involved with the latter part of that, but they don't complain as much. You can read about the biosketch change here.
by Ian Musgrave, Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

I was going to avoid blogging on this topic, but seeing as the story made the Australian with the headline “Chemicals in lipstick and cleaning products linked to early menopause”, I feel I have to weigh in a bit to avoid undue panic and the inevitable dangers of people hurling their lipsticks out the window at great speed. Also, there are issues of science communication and “the dose makes the poison”