Cure Down syndrome with a single injection? Well, maybe–if you’re a mouse. A team of scientists from John Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health have cured newborn mice of Down syndrome by injecting them with a drug that stimulates what’s called the Sonic Hedgehog pathway (so-named because in flies, a lack of the Hedgehog signaling protein causes embryos to become prickly, hedgehog-like balls).
People with Down syndrome usually have smaller brain volumes than control groups, including significantly smaller cerebellums, a portion of the brain involved in motor control. The researchers, led by Roger Reeves of the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, treated newborn mice that had been genetically engineered to have Down syndrome-like characteristics with a small molecule called SAG.
Excerpt from an article written by Shaunacy Ferro at POPSCI. Continue THERE
Given her relatively young age, Dr. Rae Lyn Burke didn’t think much about her family history of Alzheimer’s disease — a grandmother and an aunt had suffered from it, but they were much older. Ironically, Burke was just in her late 50s when she started having her own symptoms of early onset Alzheimer’s. Even more ironic is that Burke had been one of the key developers of the Alzheimer’s drug bapineuzumab, which she now takes herself to reduce the progression of the disease in her own brain.
“My expertise was in vaccine development,” says Burke, “so when Elan Pharmaceuticals got surprising evidence that a vaccine approach might be of value in treating Alzheimer’s disease they recruited me as a consultant, since this was a new area for them. My particular role was to ask how adjuvants might potentiate the immune response.” In other words, Burke figured out what compounds could be added to bapineuzumab, an antibody vaccine, that might help kick the recipient’s immune system into higher gear.
Excerpt of an article written by Alice G. Walton, The Atlantic. Continue HERE
Few medicines, in the history of pharmaceuticals, have been greeted with as much exultation as a green-and-white pill containing 20 milligrams of fluoxetine hydrochloride — the chemical we know as Prozac. In her 1994 book “Prozac Nation,” Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote of a nearly transcendental experience on the drug. Before she began treatment with antidepressants, she was living in “a computer program of total negativity . . . an absence of affect, absence of feeling, absence of response, absence of interest.” She floated from one “suicidal reverie” to the next. Yet, just a few weeks after starting Prozac, her life was transformed. “One morning I woke up and really did want to live. . . . It was as if the miasma of depression had lifted off me, in the same way that the fog in San Francisco rises as the day wears on. Was it the Prozac? No doubt.”
Like Wurtzel, millions of Americans embraced antidepressants. In 1988, a year after the Food and Drug Administration approved Prozac, 2,469,000 prescriptions for it were dispensed in America. By 2002, that number had risen to 33,320,000. By 2008, antidepressants were the third-most-common prescription drug taken in America.
Fast forward to 2012 and the same antidepressants that inspired such enthusiasm have become the new villains of modern psychopharmacology — overhyped, overprescribed chemicals, symptomatic of a pill-happy culture searching for quick fixes for complex mental problems. In “The Emperor’s New Drugs,” the psychologist Irving Kirsch asserted that antidepressants work no better than sugar pills and that the clinical effectiveness of the drugs is, largely, a myth. If the lodestone book of the 1990s was Peter Kramer’s near-ecstatic testimonial, “Listening to Prozac,” then the book of the 2000s is David Healy’s “Let Them Eat Prozac: The Unhealthy Relationship Between the Pharmaceutical Industry and Depression.”
Excerpt of an article written by SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE, NYT. Continue HERE