Liveblogging Experimental Biology 2008

April 6, 2008

I’m attending the Experimental Biology 2008 meeting in San Diego this week. EB2008 is:

A multi-society, interdisciplinary, scientific meeting featuring plenary and award lectures, symposia, oral and poster sessions, career services, and exhibits of scientific equipment, supplies, and publications

The sponsoring societies include: American Association of Anatomists (AAA), The American Association of Immunologists (AAI), The American Physiological Society (APS), American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP), American Society for Nutrition (ASN), American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)

7-8 AM: ARGH. Trying to retrieve my online itinerary with no success whatsoever. Lame. Better just head to the convention center and pick up my CD.
Online registration goes seamlessly, sure they are perfectly happy to take your money!
[in transit….]
9AM- EB2008 wifi is borked. Booth 836 is rockin’ the connection. Ok, quick scan of the drug abuse posters to see if I need to come back. Itinerary builder finally checks in…now to load my saved itinerary…aaaghhh.
[programming note: apparently maintaining “live” blogging is going to be more challenging that I thought! Access to wifi is a bit tricky and I’m here to see science rather than to blog primarily. ]
Hilarious vignette caught as I was walking through vendor land to scan the posters. Vendors at one booth were having nasty conversation with some guy (presumed competitor?) over intellectual property thieving and respective quality of companies. It was really very unusual in my experience to see vendors smacking-down some person in front of their booth.
9-11:30 All about the cannabinoids today. Morning session chaired by Steve Goldberg who was the first to show clear IV self-administration of THC in squirrel monkeys. His long-time collaborator on this work, Justinova, spoke late in the session.

Cannabinoid CB1 Receptor Interdependence with Other Receptor Systems as a Target for Medication Development
(Sponsored by the Divisions for Behavioral Pharmacology, Neuropharmacology, Molecular Pharmacology, Systems & Integrative Pharmacology)
Chair: Steven R. Goldberg
Introduction: Cannabinoid CB1 receptor interdependence with other receptor systems as a target for medication development
Steven R.Goldberg, NIDA, NIH
Cannabinoid CB1 receptors form functional heteromers with dopamine, adenosine and opioid receptors
Sergi Ferre, NIDA, NIH
Drug-discrimination and in-vivo microdialysis procedures for studying nicotinic, dopaminergic and opioid receptor interactions with cannabinoid CB1 receptors in rats.
Marcello Solinas, University of Poitiers, France
Drug self-administration and conditioned place preference procedures for studying interactions between cannabinoid CB1 receptors and other receptor systems in rodents
Walter Fratta, University of Cagliari, Italy
Intravenous drug self-administration procedures in nonhuman primates for studying interactions between cannabinoid CB1 receptors and other receptor systems
Zuzana Justinova, University of Maryland School of Medical
Cannabinoid CB1 receptor interdependence with other receptor systems as a target for medication development: Future directions and potential payoff for human health in the next 10 years

The theme was cannabinoid interactions with other neurotransmitter receptor systems as you can tell from the titles. This stuff has been developing for half a decade at least and is not brand spanking new. Talks included quite a bit of published data. However, interesting new stuff does keep trickling out regarding how endocannabinoid function can modulate, e.g., heroin or alcohol self-administration or discrimination. As this is the American Society for Experimental Therapeutics attention focuses on potential therapeutic targets including endocannaboid receptors, transporters and degradative enzymes (FAAH inhibitors are the bomb, apparently).
Lunch: talking careers and science with a peer and potential collaborator.
Early afternoon: quick hit on the poster sessions. A couple of rodent endocannabinoid studies. Interesting policy poster from the DEA. They are considering whether to move cannabidiol from Schedule I. Cannabidiol is a consituent of marijuana and thus included on Schedule I, recent evidence suggests it may be a good anxiolytic. It has very little classical “THC” like properties of interest, namely doesn’t substitute for delta-9-THC in drug discrimination and (I’ll have to recheck this) doesn’t substitute in nonhuman primate self-administration either.
A bit more of the social-stress, cocaine self-administration from the Wake-Forest group. (also a new group from Emory/Yerkes, getting into this a bit with a intermittent early-life maternal deprivation model which failed to increase cocaine self-admin.
MDMA enantiomer discrimination in mice from the Fantegrossi lab as one might imagine. The S(+) is more stimulant-like and the R(-) is more hallucinogen-like. I need to blog the fascinating MDMA enantiomer story at some point, they are both “active” but in different assays. The effects of the racemic mixture are not always logically related to the individual effects of the enantiomers so there is clearly some interesting cross-talk.
[3PM, more on posters]
a few still fighting the good fight on agonist therapy for cocaine (one of the resounding failures of agonist therapy approaches.) A chronic AMP-for-cocaine therapy poster is…interesting given the effort into novel dopamine transporter ligands as potential therapeutics over the past decades of NIDA funded effort.
I mentioned immunization-against-drugs-of-abuse before. One poster here from the Owens group on a series of antibodies for use against methamphetamine abuse. Two of the conjugate vaccines show some efficacy in increasing blood levels of drug-this sequestration of drug in the bloodstream (because of binding to the antibodies) is actually a positive finding I should note. Corresponding decrease in locomotor stimulation induced by METH.
4PM, quick run through Government Row. Since staffers generally rotate at the IC booths I like to check by frequently to take a chance on catching POs that I know. Hmm, no NIDA, no NIMH here as far as I can tell. NIAAA has a small presence, NIAID and NIEHS have big booths but I don’t really know people there.
[Final reflection later in the evening- talking with one of my big-ticket vendors today I was realizing that things are bad for them too. You’d predict this of course, because when the NIH dollars are hard to come by, the labs aren’t looking to invest in a bunch of equipment. But still, not something we always think about. All those support companies are taking it in the teeth too….]

3 Responses to “Liveblogging Experimental Biology 2008”

  1. DM, could you keep an eye out for any basic or clinical results for GW Pharma’s Sativex oromucosal THC/CBD spray for cancer pain and/or multiple sclerosis – it’s about time to update a post on it but I’m not clear as to where US development is on it these days. I know I should be out there since ASPET is part of FASEB but this year’s travel budget is in the toilet.


  2. Eric Says:

    Hey- I’m here too! Try renting a bike and going along the waterfront if you’ve got time. I got a nice sunburn this afternoon…. there weren’t any good cancer, stem cell, pharmacology or epithelial biology talks after 2pm today for some reason. But the biking was excellent:)
    The online itinerary builder worked great before the conference started, but after everyone got here and the traffic spiked it went all wonky.
    I find the comment about big-ticket vendors interesting as well. This has to trickle down to all of the vendors for the supplies we use. The money for big-ticket items and the smaller things (like say pre-cast gels) all comes from the same place. Fewer $$$ in means fewer $$$ out. I would guess that all vendors who target NIH funded laboratories are hurting.


  3. Eric Says:

    Oh yeah –
    Some big ticket items are selling just fine. For example, this year bio-rad has had problems keeping their motherboards in stock for things like gel filtration apparatuses, which is strange because they are $20,000 machines (worth every penny for protein purification, but I could get a new car for that much)….


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