1st center devoted to researching psychedelic drugs in the U.S.

The university is launching a Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research within John Hopkins Medicine. It’s believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S. and the largest research center of its kind in the world, according to the school.

“Johns Hopkins is deeply committed to exploring innovative treatments for our patients,” said Paul B. Rothman, dean of the medical faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a statement. “Our scientists have shown that psychedelics have real potential as medicine, and this new center will help us explore that potential.”

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Once more, new evidence about Parkinson and guts

The human body naturally forms a protein called alpha-synuclein which is found, among other places, in the brain in the endings of nerve cells. However, misfolded forms of this protein that clump together are linked to damage to nerve cells, a deterioration of the dopamine system and the development of problems with movement and speech – hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease.

The latest findings, which are based on studies in mice, back up a long-held theory that abnormally folded alpha-synuclein may start off in the gut and then spread to the brain via the vagus nerve – a bundle of fibres that starts in the brainstem and transports signals to and from many of the body’s organs, including the gut.

Full article on the Guardian

 

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We may finally know what causes Alzheimer’s

 

 

If you bled when you brushed your teeth this morning, you might want to get that seen to. We may finally have found the long-elusive cause of Alzheimer’s disease: Porphyromonas gingivalis, the key bacteria in chronic gum disease.

That’s bad, as gum disease affects around a third of all people. But the good news is that a drug that blocks the main toxins of P. gingivalis is entering major clinical trials this year, and research published today shows it might stop and even reverse Alzheimer’s. There could even be a vaccine.

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Prion Seeds Distribute throughout the Eyes of Patients

The findings are the latest to suggest that these universally fatal, if rare, diseases can be spread through the eyes.

We can get sick from prions in a few ways. Sometimes, people are born with mutations passed down in their family that increase the risk of developing a prion disease, including a form of CJD. Most commonly, as with people who have sCJD, the prions show up spontaneously, with the normally harmless prion protein changing into a misfolded form that makes nearby proteins misfold, too. But what’s especially terrifying about prions is that they can also be infectious, capable of spreading from person to person, or even animal to person.

It can take years, even decades, for the symptoms of a prion disease (such as dementia or muscle weakness) to show up, but once they do, it’s usually only a matter of months before death.

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A sociologist becomes a geneticist and changes his mind

 

 

 

Conley describes his early academic work as “lefty sociology.” His Ph.D. thesis was on the black-white wealth gap and he dedicated his early career to studying the transmission of health and wealth between parents and children.

At N.Y.U., Conley kept getting into disagreements with geneticists, arguing that their methods were dangerously naïve. It seemed to him implausible that studying only twins — the gold standard of genetics research — was enough to teach us the difference between nature and nurture. But over time, he decided that it wasn’t enough to just argue.

Conley is an academic, and even within that tortured group he is something of a masochist. At that time he was a tenured professor, the kind of gig most people see as the endgame of an academic career, and yet he decided to go back and grind out another Ph.D., this time in genetics. He went into his program believing that our social environment is largely the cause of our outcomes, and that biology is usually the dependent variable.

By the end of his time, he says, the causal arrow in his mind had pretty much flipped the other way: “I tried to show for a range of outcomes that the genetic models were overstating the impact of genetics because of their crazy assumptions.” He sighs. “But I ended up showing that they’re right.”

Read full article on the New York Times.

 

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Memory – Can you choose what to forget?

WE ALL have memories we would rather forget – and it is possible, if you try hard enough.

It is easy to think of memories as something you can actively strengthen, whereas forgetting is a passive process. But we have started to discover it can be intentional too.

Perhaps the easiest way to forget something is simply to try to suppress a memory. Jeremy Manning at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, has found that just telling people to “push thoughts out of their head” is enough to make them forget lists of words they have learned to associate with particular cues. “We don’t know how, but people seem to know how to do it.”

The truth about memory is far more elaborate than we previously thought. Here’s your guide to how it really works
This seems especially paradoxical because we also know that rehearsing memories helps to strengthen them. Suppression has been linked to decreased activity in the hippocampus, so we may be unknowingly reducing our hippocampal activity by focusing on the present, says Justin Hulbert at Bard College, New York.

Full article on newscientist

 

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Medicinal cannabis will be available next month!

Doctors in the UK will be able to prescribe cannabis products to patients from 1 November, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced.

Javid had decided to relax the rules about the circumstances in which cannabis products can be given to patients, after considering expert advice from a specially commissioned review.

The new regulations apply to England, Wales and Scotland, and follow several high-profile cases, including that of  Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, children with epilepsy whose conditions appeared to be helped by cannabis oïl.

Full article on NewScientist.

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Gut n Brain – new ultra quick connexion

 

A recent study of enterochromaffin cells, a subset of enteroendocrine cells, also found that gut signals are transmitted at epithelial-neural synapses through release of the neurotransmitter serotonin (4). Together, these findings overturn a decades-old dogma that enteroendocrine cells signal exclusively through hormones.

Article on ScienceMag.

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Make cannabis-based medicines legal, say UK drug advisers

 

 

Doctors in the UK should be able to prescribe cannabis-derived medicine, the government’s chief drug advisers have recommended, paving the way for a loosening of the laws governing access to the substance.

Cannabis is classed as a schedule 1 drug, meaning it is thought to have no therapeutic value and cannot be lawfully possessed or prescribed. It may be used for the purposes of research but a Home Office licence is required.

“At present, cannabis-derived products can vary greatly in their composition, effectiveness and level of impurity. It is important that clinicians, patients and their families are confident that any prescribed medication is both safe and effective.”

The ACMD has tasked the Department of Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency with producing a definition for the products that could be prescribed.

The council also recommends that clinical trials urgently take place to further establish the safety and effectiveness of different products.

Read complete article on TheGuardian

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