August 5, 2011
A towering legendary figure of behavioral pharmacology and the drug abuse sciences has passed on.
photoJoseph V. Brady, Ph.D. [Department, PubMed, Neurotree] died Friday July 29, 2011 at the age of 89. He earned his doctorate in 1951 from the University of Chicago, worked at Walter Reed Institute from 1951 to 1970 and spent the balance of his career at Johns Hopkins University.
His most recent paper listed in PubMed was on the effects of gamma-radiation,
Hienz RD, Brady JV, Gooden VL, Vazquez ME, Weed MR. Neurobehavioral effects of head-only gamma-radiation exposure in rats.Radiat Res. 2008 Sep;170(3):292-8.
February 23, 2011
sourceAn towering figure of the substance abuse research fields has passed away. According to a note posted to an ASPET mailing list, Charles Robert Schuster, Ph.D. suffered a fatal stroke on Feb 21 in Houston Texas. NIDA Director Nora Volkow has also posted a notice to the NIDA-grantees mailing list.
The CPDD biography of Dr. Schuster is a brief overview of his career.
After six years in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Michigan, he joined the Departments of Psychiatry, Pharmacology, and Behavioral Sciences and founded the University of Chicago´s Drug Abuse Research Center. In 1986, Dr. Schuster was appointed the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a position he held until 1992. In January of 1995, Dr. Schuster was appointed as a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Wayne State School of Medicine and the Director of the Substance Abuse Research Division.
One of the most fundamental and lasting advances of Dr. Schuster was the development of the self-administration model of drug reinforcement. Bob Schuster was one of the first to demonstrate that animals would work to receive intravenous infusions of drug and he was a major player in several of the initial observations on the reinforcing properties of recreational drugs through the 1960s and 1970s.
James R. Weeks published in 1962 that female rats would press a lever to receive intravenous infusions of morphine. Schuster and his colleagues were the first to adapt this method to nonhuman primates, getting started at approximately the same time as Weeks (there are references to Abstract presentations from Weeks as early as 1960 or 1961).
July 27, 2010
Our good blogfriend JuniorProf has launched a campaign to explain why pain research matters. I am already learning lots of stuff from his older posts. Also from observations such as this one at Almost Diamonds and this one from Zuska.
The thing that caught my eye recently, though, was this post:
Drug discovery in academia and NIH, a new type of U01
This brings us to the bane of drug discovery: absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME). This is something that industry does very well.
ADME in academia, well, let’s just say, not so much. The reasons for this are likely pretty simple: its an important area of drug development but not the most exciting, by any stretch of the imagination (sorry you ADME specialists), and it often requires all sorts of rather expensive testing in model organisms that aren’t used often in academic labs. Its also highly compound-specific and this makes grant writing very hard (or so I hear).
JuniorProf then goes on to make an argument for why drug development should be done in academia and how that might work best. He then describes a recent NIH initiative that is trying to support some academic drug development effort.
Go read. Follow @juniorprofblog on Twitter or perhaps just the #painresearchmatters hashtag.
May 13, 2010
I have been waiting and waiting for this post.
This is a page from my great-grandmother’s cookery notebook. She was a cook in England in the late nineteenth century (yes, we have long generation times in my family). Elsewhere in the notebook she seems to be planning a menu for a visit by Lord Roberts of Kandahar, so her employers were clearly very, very posh. And, whenever they got a cold, very, very high.
April 14, 2010
As a bit of a followup to the poll we ran on whether or not cigarettes make you high, I offer context and my thoughts. As of this writing, btw, the votes are running 44% “Yes”, 47% “No”, the balance “other” with a fair bit of commentary to the effect that “high” is not exactly the right description for nicotine.
For the background, we might as well start with the comment from SurgPA:
This started with an email from PalMD asking why doctors react much more negatively to narcotics abusers than alcohol or nicotine abusers. I hypothesized that most people view acute use of the various drugs differently. Specifically I suspected that most doctors’ gut reactions when seeing someone light a cigarette are qualitatively (and vastly) different from seeing someone shoot heroin (or snort crushed oxycontin). In short that we don’t see the act of smoking as an acute intoxication by a neuroactive substance, even if we understand it intellectually.
July 22, 2009
A 19-year-old man was found dead in Boulder on Tuesday morning, and authorities suspect poppy tea as the cause.
If so, it would be the second death in five months of a young person in Boulder who drank opium tea, police said.
Jeffrey Joseph Bohan, a 2008 graduate of Fairview High School in Boulder, drank the powerful psychoactive brew with his older brother about midnight, authorities said.
His brother found him unresponsive at 6 a.m. in a home
Abel Pharmboy had written some comments about that first death of a young man in Boulder. In the first post, Able overviewed a bit of the history of the medicinal (and recreational) preparation of products from the opium poppy.
The sad fact is that we’ve known for over 200 years that this is a bad idea: based upon growing conditions, harvest time, and extraction method, the resulting concoction can provide an extremely variable dose of these compounds. Used medicinally as one of the strongest analgesics (“painkillers”) we know, in higher doses the opiates can impart a warming sense of euphoria but, at even higher doses, suppresses the respiratory control center of the brain stem, resulting in death.
Abel also mentioned a website created by a father of yet another kid who overdosed on poppy tea. The point of Poppy Seed Tea Can Kill is, quite obviously, to educate people on the risks of home-brewed poppy tea. It includes a redacted version of the drug panels run on his son postmortem which is a great thing. I wish all the parents / closest relative of the folks who die from “Ecstasy” would do similar- this kind of information goes a long way toward addressing controversy over what did and did not kill the individual.
At any rate, it is very sad that this seeming fad in recreational drug use is resulting in fatalities. It seems that it is doing so almost entirely because the dose is so hard to control / appreciate under the typical use circumstances. Perhaps publicizing this hypothesis widely would go a long way toward harm reduction by inducing a bit of caution in the user population. I can hope, anyway.
Perennial Playboy Magazine Top-Ten Party School San Diego State University is in the news following the arrest of some of its students on allegations of illicit drug dealing and drug possession. The San Diego Union Tribune is reporting:
Federal agents and SDSU police culminated a yearlong investigation into drug dealing around campus yesterday, …Ninety-six suspects, including 75 SDSU students, have been arrested on drug-related charges…The SDSU Police Department approached the DEA and county narcotics task-force officials for assistance in December, when it became clear that the trafficking was more widespread than it could handle.
Investigation seizures by the numbers (sidebar; SOURCE: SD County District Attorney’s Office)
- 50: Pounds of marijuana
- 4: Pounds of cocaine
- 3: Semiautomatic handguns
- 1: Shotgun
- 48: Marijuana plants
- 350: Ecstasy pills
- 30: Vials of hash oil
- $60,000: Cash
Sadly, the investigation was sparked by a drug-overdose fatality, albeit of an anonymous undergraduate rather than someone as famous as Heath Ledger or Len Bias. There is also another drug-overdose fatality caught up in this story.
I want to talk about Jennifer Poliakoff and Kurt Baker today.
Provides that any person who sells, dispenses, distributes, furnishes, administers, gives, or offers to sell, dispense, distribute, furnish, administer or give Salvia divinorum, or Salvinorin A, or any substance or material containing Salvia divinorum or Salvianorin [sic] A, to any person under 18 years of age shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Currently legal psychoactive? Efforts afoot to regulate and/or limit use? Game on, DearReader…
April 16, 2008
This week’s fax from the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland touches on an issue of continual interest, namely the determination of “how addictive” different drugs of abuse may be. As I have mentioned a time or two (or three) before, I believe this is an area where the scientific research tends to skirt a key issue. From my perspective, this is one of the hardest questions to answer on the basis of the available human data and the animal models tend to drive right over the essential concepts.
This week’s CESAR fax (sign up here) reports rates of discontinuation, continued use without dependence and dependence for most major drugs of abuse. These data can help us to answer the question of “how addictive” are various recreational drugs.
In his classic song the great philosopher and student of addictive disorders, Hank Williams, Jr., blames a traditional source for increasing the probability of developing substance abuse:
….Hank why do you drink?
(Hank) why do you roll smoke?
Why must you live out the songs you wrote?
Stop and think it over
Try and put yourself in my unique position
If I get stoned and sing all night long
It’s a family tradition!
A piece in the New York Times covers a county in New Mexico which experiences some of the highest drug-overdose rates in the nation
recorded deaths have been steady, around 20 a year in a county of 41,000. Meanwhile, the health department trades about 12,000 clean syringes for used ones in the county each week.
The article attributes much of the blame to a familiar “Grim Tradition”.
February 29, 2008
I have a tendency to refer to data from the Monitoring the Future study with some frequency. Unfortunately I’ve been too lazy to post the critical data figures for your entertainment. Until today DearReader.
One example of which I am particularly fond, is what I call the “Len Bias effect” on the public perception of “risk” associated with casual use of cocaine. I refer to this so often because of the casual sneering response I (and others of my approximate generation) retain for the “Just Say No” program championed by Nancy Reagan in the mid-80s. The MtF data suggest to me at any rate that our “gut feeling” that these types of programs are stupid should be more nuanced.
February 6, 2008
As a follow to my prior comments pointing out that the press reports on Heath Ledger’s death were unnecessarily devoid of neuropharmacological perspective, I’ll note that the report on the drugs found in Heath Ledger’s body after his death is now out. Abel Pharmboy has the call:
this report is just in from AP on Heath Ledger’s toxicology report:
The cause of death was “acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine,” spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said in a statement.
The opiates oxycodone (OxyContinTM) and hydrocodone (VicodinTM and a host of other products) did not appear, to my knowledge, in the news that leaked out in the days following Ledger’s death. This is an interesting twist.