Addiction, Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, NEJM / 23.10.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Marc Lewis, Ph.D. Klingelbeekseweg Arnhem The Netherlands MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: According to the brain disease model, addiction is a chronic disease brought about by changes in brain systems that mediate the experience and anticipation of reward and higher-order systems underlying judgment and cognitive control. Its proponents propose that these changes are driven by exposure to drugs of abuse or alcohol. The brain disease model is the most prevalent model of addiction in the Western world. The disease model's narrow focus on the neurobiological substrates of addiction has diverted attention (and funding) from alternative models. Alternatives to the brain disease model highlight the social-environmental factors that contribute to addiction and the learning processes that translate these factors into negative outcomes. Learning models propose that addiction, though obviously disadvantageous, is a natural, context-sensitive response to challenging environmental contingencies, not a disease. In this review I examine addiction within a learning framework that incorporates the brain changes seen in addiction without reference to pathology or disease.  (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA / 20.10.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tyler Winkelman MD, MSc   Clinician-Investigator Division of General Internal Medicine, Hennepin Healthcare Center for Patient and Provider Experience, Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute Assistant Professor Departments of Medicine & Pediatrics University of Minnesota  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Trends in amphetamine use are mixed across data sources. We sought to identify trends in serious, problematic amphetamine use by analyzing a national sample of hospitalizations. Amphetamine-related hospitalizations increased over 270% between 2008 and 2015. By 2015, amphetamine-related hospitalizations were responsible for $2 billion in hospital costs. While opioid-related hospitalizations were more common, amphetamine-related hospitalizations increased to a much larger degree. After accounting for population growth, amphetamine hospitalizations grew 245% between 2008 and 2015, whereas opioid-related hospitalizations increased 46%. Amphetamine-related hospitalizations were more likely to be covered by Medicaid and be in the western United States compared with other hospitalizations. In-hospital mortality was 29% higher among amphetamine-related hospitalizations compared with other hospitalizations.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Genetic Research, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 17.10.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Nicole Karcher, PhD Post-doctoral scholar with the NIMH Training in Clinical Sciences fellowship Department of Psychiatry Washington University School of Medicine   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: For over fifteen years, researchers have debated the role that cannabis use plays in the development of both psychotic disorders as well as subthreshold psychotic symptoms, such as psychotic-like experiences (PLEs). There is still a lack of consensus regarding the nature of the association between cannabis use and psychosis risk, with some research finding evidence for genetic overlap, while other research finds evidence for potentially causal pathways. The current study examined data from twins and siblings from two different samples, the U.S.-based Human Connectome Project and the Australian Twin Registry, with a total of 4,674 participants. Overall, psychotic-like experiences were associated with three separate cannabis use variables [frequent (≥100 times) use, a Cannabis Use Disorder diagnosis, and current cannabis use]. Furthermore, the current research found evidence for both shared genetic and individual-specific contributions to the association between PLEs and these three cannabis use variables. More specifically, while the association between cannabis use and psychotic-like experiences was largely attributable to shared genetic factors, cannabis users were more likely to endorse PLEs in comparison to the relative who used cannabis less.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Gastrointestinal Disease / 10.10.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tarek Alansari, MD Metropolitan HospitalTarek Alansari, MD Metropolitan Hospital MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Cannabis is the most frequently consumed recreational drug in the world. The use of cannabis is becoming increasingly accepted by the general public in the United States. The estimates of the prevalence of cannabis use in the United States is about 9.5% in the adult population and the prevalence of dependence or abuse approaches 2.9%. Those under the age of 35 years are the most frequent consumers. According to Business Insider as of June 2018, recreational cannabis is legal in 9 states and medical cannabis is legal in 30 states. Recent surveys show that about 35 million Americans are frequent cannabis users. Aiming for symptomatic relief, some patients with different gastrointestinal disorders have turned to cannabis without fully understanding the effect of its use for their individual condition. Biliary tract disease, ethanol abuse, infections, autoimmunity, and genetics are well known causes of acute pancreatitis. However, medication-induced pancreatitis remains a less common etiology. In about 20% of cases of acute pancreatitis despite of the great improvement in genetic testing and imaging modalities, the workup still fails to reveal an etiology. These cases are labeled idiopathic. Cannabis use is emerging as a rare, possibly overlooked cause of acute pancreatitis with few cases reported in the literature. In the United States, only 5 cases of cannabis - induced acute pancreatitis (AP) have been reported till September 2017. The review of literature revealed that only 26 cases of cannabis-induced AP have been reported worldwide. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Opiods / 05.10.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: "150826-fentanyl-factory-underground-illicit.jpg" by r. nial bradshaw is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Jon Zibbell, PhD, Senior public health scientist Behavioral Health Research Division RTI International Research Triangle Park, NC,  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: For the first time in 2016, U.S. overdose deaths involving illicitly-manufactured fentanyl surpassed deaths from heroin and prescription deaths. Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid, and an illicitly-manufactured form of the drug is regularly being mixed with heroin and often sold to unwitting consumers. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and its illicitly-manufactured version is extremely difficult to discern when mixed with heroin. Harm reduction organizations have started to distribute FTS and people consuming street-purchased opioids are using them to test drugs for fentanyl. Our objective was to assess whether this point-of-use form of drug checking was influencing people’s drug use behavior. The study was self-funded by the research institute RTI International. Our findings show that consumers who tested street opioids with fentanyl test strips were five times more likely to engage in safer drug use behavior when the test comes back positive. The study was conducted among a group of 125 people who inject drugs in Greensboro, North Carolina. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Alcohol, Author Interviews / 03.10.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Pamela Trangenstein, PhD While  a predoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY)  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Research repeatedly shows that alcohol outlet density (the number of businesses that sell alcohol in an area) is associated with violent crime, but studies disagree about whether alcohol outlets that are on premise (e.g., bars, restaurants) or off premise (e.g., liquor stores, beer and wine stores) have a stronger association with violent crime. We used advanced methods that consider both the number of alcohol outlets and their locations to better understand how the association between alcohol outlets and violent crime differs by type of outlet. We found that alcohol outlets that allow off-premise sales like liquor stores had a stronger association with homicide, aggravated assault, and robbery than on-premise outlets like bars and restaurants. We also found that disadvantaged neighborhoods had higher access to the types of alcohol outlets associated with the most harms: off-premise outlets.  (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Clots - Coagulation, NEJM / 27.09.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Amar Kelkar MD Clinical Fellow Division of Hematology & Oncology, Department of Medicine University of Florida College of Medicine, UF Health Shands Hospital MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are synthetic cannabinoids? Response: Starting in March 2018, patients began reporting to hospitals and clinics with unexplained and prolonged bleeding symptoms, first in Chicago, Illinois, and then spreading to Peoria, Illinois and elsewhere. This gained a lot of press because the initial identifying factor was that all the patients had reported recent use of synthetic cannabinoids. As the matter was studied further, it was determined that these patients were likely exposed to an anticoagulant poison mixed in with the synthetic cannabinoids. Synthetic cannabinoids are lab-derived illicit drugs that target the cannabinoid receptors that are also targeted by marijuana. They go by many names including synthetic marijuana, K2, and Spice. (more…)
Abuse and Neglect, Addiction, Author Interviews, CDC, JAMA, Pediatrics / 24.09.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michelle M Johns, MPH, PhD Health Scientist Division of Adolescent and School Health CDC MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Gender nonconformity is an under-researched area of adolescent health that is often linked to negative health outcomes. To address this gap, we analyzed Youth Risk Behavior Survey data to describe the associations between gender nonconformity and risk behaviors, including mental distress, and substance use. Gender nonconformity was associated with feeling sad and hopeless, as well as suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors among female and male students. In addition, gender nonconformity was strongly associated with substance use among male students. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Pain Research / 20.09.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Cannabis” by Don Goofy is licensed under CC BY 2.0Martin De Vita, MS Doctoral Candidate Clinical Psychology Department Syracuse University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Despite widely held beliefs that cannabis is effective for pain relief, experimental trials have produced mixed results. As result, the analgesic properties of cannabinoid drugs have remained poorly understood. We aimed to clarify these findings by extracting data from every available experimental pain study and analyzing the results as a whole. We found that numerous aspects of pain were being influenced in different ways. We found that cannabinoid drugs did not significantly reduce the intensity of experimental pain, but they did produce small-sized reductions in pain unpleasantness. Cannabinoids produced significant analgesic effects on pain threshold and tolerance. There was no significant effect of cannabinoids on mechanical hyperalgesia. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Neurology, University Texas / 17.09.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Francesca M. Filbey PhD Professor Program Head, Cognition and Neuroscience PhD Bert Moore Chair in BrainHealth UT Dallas MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The cannabis literature has generally focused on changes in brain function when engaged in a task. We were interested in examining whether these differences are present when not engaged in a task (i.e., during resting state) to understand baseline functional organization of the brain. Changes to baseline functional organization may reflect changes in brain networks underlying cognition. We also wanted to investigate whether specific brain waves, as measured by electroencephalography (EEG), are associated with measures of cannabis use, such as craving. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, CDC, JAMA, Pediatrics / 17.09.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Katrina Trivers, PhD, MSP Lead author and lead epidemiologist Office on Smoking and Health CDC MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Although we’ve seen considerable declines in the use of regular cigarettes among U.S. youth over the past several decades, the tobacco product landscape is evolving, and the use of other tobacco products have become increasingly popular. For example, as of 2014, e-cigarettes have become the most commonly used tobacco product among US youth. During 2011-2015, e-cigarette use increased 900% among U.S. high school students before declining in 2016. No change was observed in 2017, with about 2 million youth, including 12% of high school students and 3% of middle school students, reporting they had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. This is a public health concern because the use of any form of tobacco product is unsafe among youth, irrespective of whether it’s smoked, smokeless, or electronic. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that the aerosol emitted from e-cigarettes is not harmless. It can contain harmful ingredients, including nicotine, carbonyl compounds, and volatile organic compounds known to have adverse health effects. The nicotine in these products is of particular concern given that nicotine exposure during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain. In recent years, many youth have also been using other psychoactive substances in e-cigarettes, including cannabinoids and other illicit drugs. This could have been fueled, in part, by shifts in the social acceptability and access to cannabis as several states have or are considering legalized cannabis sales for adults. A previous CDC study found that in 2015, almost 1 in 3 students reported using e-cigarettes with non-nicotine substances. However, it wasn’t possible to identify what exactly those substances were based on the question. Given the high concurrent use of tobacco and other substances, including cannabis, a more detailed question was added to a future survey to assess the use of cannabis in e-cigarettes among U.S. youth. This study presents the findings from that question. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Opiods, Social Issues / 14.09.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Hanna Grol-Prokopczyk PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology University at Buffalo, SUNY MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Studies examining predictors of prescription opioid use often have limited information about users’ socioeconomic status, their level of pain, and their opinions of opioids.  Using unique data from the Health and Retirement Study’s 2005-2006 Prescription Drug Study—which includes information about older adults’ education, income, wealth, insurance type, pain level, and opinions of prescription drugs used—I was able to explore how socioeconomic factors shaped prescription opioid use in the 2000s, when U.S. opioid use was at its peak.  I was also able to present a snapshot of how users of prescription opioids felt about these drugs before the declaration of an opioid epidemic. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, JAMA / 13.09.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ti-Fei YuanPhD School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China Shanghai Key Laboratory of Psychotic Disorders, Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China Co-innovation Center of Neuroregeneration, Nantong University, Nantong, Jiangsu, China Guangdong-Hongkong-Macau Institute of CNS Regeneration, Ministry of Education CNS Regeneration Collaborative Joint Laboratory, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, China MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Addiction is causing serious challenge to public health. Few drugs can treat or even alleviate addiction. In recent years, non-invasive brain stimulation has been used to modulate craving responses in different types of drug addicts (heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine), and to prevent smoking or alcohol abuse. However it is unknown if brain stimulation can also help addicts get rid of the aversive symptoms in the early withdrawal period. The present study is to our knowledge, the first trial to alleviate drug withdrawal symptoms and associated insomnia with non-invasive transcranial magentic stimulation.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Pain Research / 13.09.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jacob M. Vigil, PhD Department of Psychology University of New Mexico MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: For the past several years we have been using observational research designs as a means to overcome some of the logistical and legal barriers for conducting patient outcomes medical cannabis research. In partnership with the software developers of the Releaf App which currently is the largest repository of user-entered information on the consumption and effects of cannabis use in the United States, we have been able to measure how patients choose to consume cannabis and the effects of those choices in real-time.  Since its release in 2016, the commercially developed Releaf App has been the only publicly available, incentive-free patient educational software program designed for recording how individual cannabis usage sessions correspond to immediate changes in symptom intensity levels and experienced side effects. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research, University of Michigan / 10.09.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lauren B. Gerlach, D.O. Clinical Lecturer Department of Psychiatry University of Michigan MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  Response: In this study we used data from the Supporting Seniors Receiving Treatment and Intervention or SUSTAIN program. The program provides a supplement to a Pennsylvania medication coverage program for low-income older adults. It provides behavioral health and case management services by phone across the state. This included detailed interviews to screen for mental health issues including anxiety, depression, sleep issues, and pain, as well as analysis of prescription records and other clinical data. Among older adults prescribed a new benzodiazepine prescription by a non-psychiatric provider, we determined how many then went on to long-term use of the medication and what patient and clinical characteristics predicted long-term use over the following year. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, JAMA, Opiods, Pediatrics / 10.09.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Scott E. Hadland, MD, MPH, MS Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Boston Medical Center / Boston University School of Medicine MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Amidst a worsening overdose epidemic in the United States, adolescents and young adults have not been spared. Although evidence-based medications like buprenorphine, naltrexone, and methadone are recommended for adolescents and young adults, the extent to which youth receive these medications — and whether these medications help retain youth in addiction treatment — isn’t yet known. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, CDC, Opiods / 29.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gery P. Guy Jr., PhD, MPH Senior Health Economist Division of Unintentional Injury CDC MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: In response to the increasing harms and adverse outcomes from prescription opioids, the CDC released the Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain in March 2016. The CDC Guideline recommends evidence-based practices for opioid use for patients age 18 years and older in primary care settings in treating chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. This report analyzed the temporal changes in opioid prescribing following the release of the CDC Guideline. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Pediatrics, Pediatrics, UCSD / 27.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH Principal investigator Professor in the Department of Pediatrics UC San Diego School of Medicine Drector of clinical research at Rady Children's Hospital San Diego  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although cannabis is one of the most common recreational drugs used by pregnant and breastfeeding women, there is little current research regarding potential exposure of the breastfed infant.  As a result, pediatricians are lacking concrete evidence to help support advice to breastfeeding mothers who use cannabis.  This is particularly important as cannabis products available today are substantially more potent than products available in years past. Our group in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Center for Better Beginnings was interested in first determining how much if any of the ingredients in cannabis actually transfer into breastmilk and how long these metabolites might stay in the milk after the mom’s last use.  We invited mothers who are participating in our UCSD Human Milk Research Biorepository from across the U.S. and Canada to respond to questions about use of cannabis products over the previous 14 days and to provide a breast milk sample. Fifty mothers participated in the study.  Samples were analyzed by investigators from the UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy. Our major finding was that low, but measurable levels of delta-8 THC likely as a result of using Area 52's delta 8 gummies, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, were found in about 2/3 of the samples.  Although the number of hours after mother’s last use of cannabis that THC was still measurable varied widely, the longest time since mother’s last use that THC was still present was about 6 days.  (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Prostate Cancer / 23.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Emma H. Allott, PhD Research Assistant Professor of Nutrition UNC GILLINGS SCHOOL OF GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Prostate cancer development may span decades. In addition, the prostate grows rapidly during puberty and therefore may be particularly susceptible to dietary or lifestyle factors during this time. Our study found that heavier alcohol intake earlier in life, as well as higher cumulative alcohol intake across the lifespan, was associated with an increased odds of being diagnosed with an aggressive (clinically significant) prostate cancer in later life. However, current alcohol intake at the time of prostate cancer diagnosis was unrelated to tumor aggressiveness. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Cannabis, Mental Health Research, Schizophrenia / 22.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD Amen Clinics, Inc., Founder Costa Mesa, CA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In the largest known brain imaging study, scientists evaluated 62,454 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans of more than 30,000 individuals from 9 months old to 105 years of age to investigate factors that accelerate brain aging. SPECT was used to determine aging trajectories in the brain and which common brain disorders predict abnormally accelerated aging. It examined these functional neuroimaging scans from a large multi-site psychiatric clinic from patients who had many different psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Researchers studied 128 brain regions to predict the chronological age of the patient. Older age predicted from the scan compared to the actual chronological age was interpreted as accelerated aging.  The study found that a number of brain disorders and behaviors predicted accelerated aging, especially schizophrenia, which showed an average of 4 years of premature aging, cannabis abuse (2.8 years of accelerated aging), bipolar disorder (1.6 years accelerated aging), ADHD (1.4 years accelerated aging) and alcohol abuse (0.6 years accelerated aging).  Interestingly, the researchers did not observe accelerated aging in depression and aging, which they hypothesize may be due to different types of brain patterns for these disorders. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Neurology / 22.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Erica Grodin, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow Dept. of Psychology and Psychiatry University of California  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The hallmark of addictive disorders, including alcohol use disorder, is drug use that continues despite negative consequences. This pattern of use is referred to as “compulsive” and is one of the major barriers to treating addiction. We don’t yet fully understand what brain regions are responsible for compulsive alcohol use. Our study used a neuroimaging method called functional magnetic resonance imaging which allows us to see which areas of the brain are more active when an individual is performing a task. To investigate what brain regions are involved in compulsive alcohol seeking, we designed a task during which study participants could try to earn alcohol and food points at the risk of receiving a negative consequence, an electric shock. Study participants were light drinkers (men who drank <15 drinks/week and women who drank <10 drinks/week) and heavy drinkers (men who drank ≥20 drinks/week and women who drank ≥15 drinks/week). We found that heavy drinking individuals were more likely to try to earn alcohol points that were paired with a potential negative consequence than light drinkers were. This behavior of compulsive alcohol seeking was associated with increased brain activation in the medial prefrontal cortex, anterior insula, and ventral and dorsal striatum.  (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Opiods / 21.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bikram Subedi, PhD Assistant Professor of Analytical Chemistry Murray State University, Murray KYBikram Subedi, PhD Assistant Professor of Analytical Chemistry Murray State University, Murray KY MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The USA is one of the major consumers of diverse neuropsychiatric and illegal drugs, and recently declared a national public health emergency on opioid abuse. Law enforcement typically utilized conventional methods of determining drug consumption rate which are based on survey questionnaire, hospital admissions, drug-related crime statistics, and self-reported information. Conventional methods typically underestimate the actual consumption rate of drugs. Our new approach of determining consumption rates of drugs in community is time and cost effecting and comprehensive. Based on levels of drugs quantified from raw sewage, the per capita consumption rates of several illicit drugs including methamphetamine, amphetamine, cocaine, and THC in two communities of Western Kentucky (similar population and only ~50 miles apart) were significantly different. During special events such as July 4th and 2017 solar eclipse, the consumption rates were found even higher. The consumption rate of methamphetamine was among one of the highest ever reported in the country.  (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Mental Health Research / 21.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Energy drink” by joelklal is licensed under CC BY 2.0Barbara D. Fontana Laboratory of Experimental Neuropsychobiology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Natural and Exact Sciences Center Graduate Program in Biological Sciences Toxicological Biochemistry, Federal University of Santa Maria, Santa Maria, Brazil  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Our research group has been working with taurine and alcohol association for a long time. The background for this study is around increased consumption of molecules present in energy drinks frequently used as mixers for alcoholic beverages. Taurine is one of the most abundant molecules found in energetic drinks and has a neuromodulatory role in brain. In this context, we explore the effects of taurine associated to alcohol. Thus, as result we observed that this association exacerbate risky choices and reduces social cohesion in zebrafish, having a negative impact in social and fear-related behavior. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Neurology, Opiods / 21.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tara Gomes, MHSc Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael’s Hospital, The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy Department of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Pregabalin is a medication increasingly being prescribed to manage pain, however there is emerging evidence that this drug may increase one's risk of opioid overdose when prescribed with opioids. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Cognitive Issues, Memory / 18.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC Ana Maria Sebastião, PhD Professor of Pharmacology and Neurosciences Director Institute of Pharmacology and Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine and Francisco Mouro, PhD Unit of Neurosciences, Institute of Molecular Medicine University of Lisbon, Portugal MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: There is pressing need to comprehend how cannabinoid exposure impacts brain functioning. While cannabinoid-related research has increased exponentially in the last decade, the mechanisms through which cannabinoids affect brain functioning are still elusive. Specifically, we need to know how prolonged cannabinoid exposure affects important cognitive processes, such as memory, and also find the roots of those effects. This is particularly relevant considering that several countries have already approved cannabis-based medicines. In this sense, our work sheds new light into the mechanisms underlaying the memory-deficits provoked by a continuous exposure to a cannabinoid drug. More precisely, using brain imaging techniques, we found that long-term exposure to a synthetic cannabinoid drug impairs the ability of key brain regions involved in learning and memory to communicate with each other. Our data points to the necessity of considering cannabinoid actions in a broader perspective, including brain circuitry and communication.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Gastrointestinal Disease / 14.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Beth A. McCormick, Ph.D. Professor and Vice Chair | Department of Microbiology & Physiological Systems Founding Executive Director | University of Massachusetts Center for Microbiome Research Board of Editors | Gastroenterology University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester, MA 01655 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There has been extensive, but to date mostly anecdotal, support for a beneficial role for cannabinoids and cannabis-derived agents to provide benefit for symptoms in individuals suffering from intestinal inflammatory disease (IBD). Our studies have provided one possible rationale for these previous findings: that there is a constitutively active efflux system at the luminal surface of cells that line the intestine that pumps out one class of lipids of the family known as endocannabinoids. In doing so, the intestine floods this surface with these endocannabinoids in a manner that counteracts the actions of a particular potent stimulators of intestinal inflammation that appears to be over-active in certain forms of IBD. This is most significant because a number of cannabinoids and cannabis-derived agents can mimic the actions of this class of endocannabinoids. Moreover, while cannabinoids and endocannabinoids have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory actions, these studies have identified one mechanism used by the body to localize and focus this protective function at a critical site where pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory events intersect, providing new insights into how to treat that imbalance in these process that occurs in certain forms of IBD. Therefore, there is the immediate opportunity to use this research to identify new therapeutic strategies to treat individuals suffering from IBD that could include either agents extracted from marijuana plants or novel molecules selected based upon superior properties made obvious by this newly defined mechanism. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dental Research, JAMA, Opiods / 09.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Calista Harbaugh, MD House Officer, General Surgery Clinician Scholar, National Clinician Scholars Program Research Fellow, Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network University of Michigan MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Wisdom tooth extractions is one of the most common procedures among teens and young adults, with more than 3.5 million young people having wisdom teeth pulled every year. This procedure is commonly paired with a prescription for opioid pain medication. As the opioid epidemic sweeps the nation, we must pay attention to the long term effects of opioid prescribing for even routine procedures. This is particularly important for wisdom tooth extraction where there is evidence that opioid pain medications may be no more effective than anti-inflammatories alone. Using commercial insurance claims, we evaluated the association between receiving an opioid prescription with wisdom tooth extraction and developing new persistent opioid use in the year after the procedure. We found nearly a 3-fold increase in odds of persistent opioid use, attributable to whether or not an opioid was prescribed. This translates to nearly 50,000 young people developing new persistent opioid use each year from routine opioid prescribing for wisdom tooth extraction. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Cocaine / 08.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ana-Clara Bobadilla, Ph.D. Postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Peter Kalivas, Ph.D MUSC  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: The Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a growth factor that has well-described effects in the survival, growth and differentiation of neurons during development of the central nervous system, but it also maintains a role during adulthood in learning, memory and various disorders such as addiction. Several clinical studies show increased BDNF levels in the serum of cocaine- or alcohol-dependent patients compared to controls (D’Sa et al., 2011; D’Sa et al., 2012). In preclinical research, a wealth of studies shows that chronic exposure to drugs of abuse impacts BDNF expression in different parts of the brain, including the main regions comprised in the reward circuitry, the cortex and the nucleus accumbens (for a comprehensive review, see Li & Wolf, 2015). Conversely, altering BDNF expression or transmission has profound effects on the response of the brain to drugs (see McGinty et al., 2010). Importantly, BDNF effects are often region-specific, meaning that an increase in BDNF expression in one region can decrease the effects of drug exposure in the brain while the same increase in another region can have opposite effects (Li et al., 2013). Because BDNF transmission can modify the expression of a wide range of genes leading to long-term modifications, numerous studies administer BDNF early in the drug exposure protocol and focus on the long-term changes induced by the growth factor. In this study, we microinjected BDNF directly in the nucleus accumbens minutes before measuring cocaine craving in a well-known rodent model of relapse. We found that BDNF induces a robust decrease in craving that lasts for at least 3 days post-treatment. The inhibitory effect of BDNF is not seen when animals are tested for sucrose, a very strong reward for rats, suggesting that this effect is specific to cocaine. Moreover, cocaine craving is only decreased when BDNF is microinjected before the craving test, but has no effect when injected a day before the craving test or in the home cage, indicating a time-specificity in addition to the region-specificity previously described.  (more…)