ecstasypills.jpgMy readers will recall that I have blogged now and again about ongoing efforts to get 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), the psychoactive compound preferentially sought as Ecstasy in recreational users, approved as a medication to be used in psychotherapy. The initial attempts have focused on the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is a seriously debilitating condition and we may not have sufficient resources and knowledge to deal with, e.g., an anticipated uptick due to the current wars that the US is prosecuting.
I introduced the MDMA/PTSD Phase I clinical trials here, noting

The short version of the theory is that the subjective properties of MDMA (empathic, inhibition lowering, etc) are consistent with helping people in difficult psychotherapeutic situations (such as for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, supposedly, end stage cancer anxiety) make therapeutic breakthroughs during a limited number of treatment sessions of talk therapy. This is not proposed as a chronic medication like a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). The funny thing is, I approve of the concept of moving forward with clinical trials based on the available evidence.
Why not? I mean PTSD can be a very devastating psychological issue and if there are treatment-resistant cases that can benefit from a limited number of MDMA exposures, great.

I concluded that particular post with this observation.

As is general practice in medicine, sometimes there are going to be risks associated with therapy. Sometimes quite substantial risks can be acceptable if the alternative is bad. However we get ourselves into a world of trouble, sometimes even losing a perfectly helpful medication, if we are not as honest as possible, up front, over the actual risks.

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Now #NatNetFAIL?

July 23, 2010

A Twitt from @drisis alerted me to this post over at Nature’s blog empire. In it, one Ian Brooks muses:

Do i fit in Nature Network anymore? Is it time to consolidate and “out” myself and find a new Network to join.

I don’t know. I haven’t been around here for so long, I don’t know how Nature Network is holding up; I’ve lost touch with this place and most of the bloggers here (which I’m very sad about). I know some of the regular bloggers are frustrated with The Rules and the dreadfully slow log ins (it took me almost 2 minutes from entering The Network URL to start writing this post. That is an utterly unacceptable lag time).

Sounds a bit familiar to those of us on the side of the pond, doesn’t it? A vague sense of discomfort. Loss of community. “Why am I here?” reflections. And a sense that the complaints are many and varied, even if any given issue does not affect every single person. A storm is abrewing at Nature Networks, make no mistake.

I also enjoyed the comments that emerged in the wake of Ian’s post. Recall the sorts of snootery mooted about by these NatNet folks about the tawdry interest of Sb bloggers in their….traffic? Not to mention their difficulties with our lack of civility? And accusations that there ‘just isn’t enough science at, wot, wot old chap’?

Well now they are irritated by the Science-only dictum, bridling against the limits on cursing, complaining about a perceived pusillanimity of NPG about the infamous English Libel law and demanding, DEMANDING I SAY, their traffix stats. STAT!

All there in the comments and original post. Heck, even Henry Gee (you remember SpittleFest, right?) is whining about how he feels sadly unwelcome after his (female as it happens) boss chastised him for pissing on her carpet posting a (no doubt hilarious) blog entry about rejecting a manuscript on his iPhone from the loo.

[sidebar: I love the fact you can reference comments at NatNet now, bang up job on that at least.]

Brooks has more opinionating on Nature Networks here.

Oh and final note, Ian? You are no PhysioProf.

crossposting from

He has a new post up in response to a request for the full regression analysis. This analysis is tasty and here was the bit that drew my attention:

A principal component analysis reveals that a single principal component accounts for 71% of the variance in the overall impact scores. This principal component includes substantial contributions from all five criterion scores, with weights of 0.57 for approach, 0.48 for innovation, 0.44 for significance, 0.36 for investigator and 0.35 for environment.