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The New York Times http://tinyurl.com/cocaine-vaccine-NYT (10/6, A18, Rabin) reports, “Scientists say they have developed a cocaine vaccine that can prevent addicts from getting high by blocking the drug’sCocaine effect on the brain, though it does not blunt cravings for the drug,” according to a study  http://tinyurl.com/cocaine-vaccine-gen-psych
published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Researchers reported that although “the vaccine had only limited success, it created enough of an immune response in some subjects that many of them cut their drug use by half.” The Times notes that the “trial’s success is significant, because some of the same principles are being used by other scientists in trying to create an anti-nicotine vaccine, which could have even broader appeal.  ” The AP (10/6) adds that the results from the study “come just days after” the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) “announced plans for the first late-stage study of an experimental nicotine vaccine designed to help people quit smoking,” which “has been fast-tracked by the Food and Drug Administration, and the research will be paid for with federal stimulus money.”  Bloomberg News http://tinyurl.com/cocaine-vaccine-bloomberg (10/6, Lopatto) also reports that the 12-week cocaine vaccine trial “injected patients five times with either a placebo vaccine or a cholera vaccine with cocaine hooked on to it, to provoke an immune response.”  “Thirty-eight percent of the subjects receiving the vaccine produced antibody levels strong enough to prevent cocaine highs despite many dosages of the drug, and another 37 percent had antibody levels strong enough to prevent highs to one or two doses. The rest had little or no response,” according to the Houston Chronicle
(10/6, Ackerman).   The Chicago Tribune (10/6, Roan, Kaplan) notes, “Vaccines to help people recover from addictions to such substances as nicotine, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines appear scientifically achievable after doctors reported Monday” the results of their work on the cocaine vaccine. The Los Angeles Times(10/5, Roan) “Booster Shots” blog pointed out that about “300 cocaine-dependent individuals will be enrolled in a study beginning in January to further test the vaccine.”  WebMD (10/5, Warner) and Healthday (10/5, Gardner) also covered the story.

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acneFollowing a Time story, MedWire (9/18, Albert) reported that, according to a study published Sept. 16 in the journal BMC Public Health, researchers from the University of Oslo “found a consistent association between presence of acne and mental distress — anxiety and depression — in both adolescent boys and girls.” The team arrived at this conclusion after evaluating “a group of 3,775 Norwegian adolescents aged 18-19 years.” While “the presence of acne was self-reported by the participants,” the investigators “used the Hopkins Symptom Checklist 10 to measure mental distress, while diet and lifestyle factors were recorded using a questionnaire.” They found that “boys with acne consumed 40 percent and 54 percent more chocolate/sweets and potato chips, respectively, than boys without the condition,” and “were also 63 percent more likely to suffer from mental distress.”

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omega 3The Wall Street Journal (9/15, Whalen) reports that scientists around the world are studying omega 3 fatty acids, which naturally occur in fatty fish and in flaxseeds, as a potential treatment for conditions ranging from rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and heart disease to Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. Some researchers theorize that omega 3s may play a role in reducing inflammation. And, in some patients with Alzheimer’s who did not have the APOE4 gene, omega 3s appeared in one study to reduce the levels of amyloid proteins in the brain.

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hoarding-buckeye psychiatryMedscape (8/27) reported that, according to a study ( http://tinyurl.com/compulsive-hoarding) published online Aug. 17 in the American Journal of Psychiatry, “genetic factors contribute to at least half of all compulsive hoarding.” Researchers from the UK’s Institute of Psychiatry sent the Hoarding Rating Scale-Self Report (HRS-SR) questionnaire to all 8,313 active “twins from the TwinsUK adult twin registry,” using a “cut-off” score “of 17…to determine the presence of severe symptoms of hoarding.” A total of 5,022 questionnaires “were returned” from “2,053 sets” of monozygotic and dizygotic twins “as well as 916 singleton twins.” Next, “the researchers used a subsample of 4,355 women” to determine that “genetic factors accounted for at least 50 percent of the variance in compulsive hoarding.” The authors pointed out that “non-shared environmental factors that include such things as abuse, along with measurement error, accounted for much of the rest of the variance in compulsive hoarding.”

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bp-buckeyepsychiatryMedWire  (8/25, Davenport  http://tinyurl.com/early-age-bipolar) reports that, according to a study published online Aug. 17 in the journal Acta Neuropsychiatrica, patients with “bipolar I disorder…who have an early age of onset have a worse outcome than those with a later age of onset.” For the study, researchers from Australia’s Monash University examined data on “239 participants in the Bipolar Comprehensive Outcomes Study,” assessing the patients with “the Young Mania rating Scale, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, Clinical Global Impressions Scale, Short Form-36, SLICE/Life Scale, and the EuroQol.” The investigators found that “patients with an early age of onset had significantly more severe depressive symptoms and higher rates of suicidal ideation than other patients.” In addition, “early onset patients…were also more likely to experience a depressive first episode than other patients.” The authors also reported that “early onset patients had more frequent psychologic distress, and subsequent social and role disability than other patients, and were more dissatisfied with their lives.”

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Ohio_quarter,_reverse_side,_2002The Washington Post (8/11, Minnema) reported that the “quarter-life crisis, the 20-something version of a midlife crisis, in which sufferers struggle to establish their sense of identity and purpose,” is “not a new phenomenon.” But, “today’s young people seem to experience it more acutely than the young people who came before them.” Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a research professor of psychology at Clark University, noted that “today’s college grads experience a longer period of transition to the settled-down stage,” lacking “a stable life structure with marriage and parenthood and stable work.” But, he added that “this transition period can be positive, with its opportunities for growth and adventure” in spite of “fears of failure or of being rapped by responsibilities.” Leslie Seppinni, MFT, PsyD, a marriage and family therapist and doctor of clinical psychology, urges “quarter-lifers” to “focus on what they can change,” noting that “it is…a time of being creative in getting yourself to do something out of your comfort zone.”

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alz

 The San Diego Tribune (8/10, LaFee http://tinyurl.com/alzheimers-gene-therapy) reports that “researchers at the University of California-San Diego” are “seeking qualified study volunteers” in preparation for launching “the second-phase clinical trial (http://tinyurl.com/NGF-alzheimers-phaseII-study) of a promising gene therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.” In previous “animal and human safety trials, a gene therapy” medication “called CERE-110 was injected into patients’ brains, initially via modified skin cells, later using a harmless viral carrier. CERE-110 carries a gene that promotes long-term production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a natural molecule that helps brain cells live and function longer.” The new “phase 2 trial will be conducted at 12 US sites” and will “involve…volunteers between the ages of 50 and 80 with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s symptoms.” During the “randomized,” blind study, “half of the participants” will receive “CERE-110, and the other half” will get “a placebo.” After completion of the study “in 2012…participants in the placebo group will be eligible to be treated with CERE-110,” should the phase II results be promising.

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BBC News (7/5) reported that, according to a mouse study published in the July 5 online edition of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, “drinking five cups of coffee a day could reverse memory problems seen in Alzheimer’s disease.” For the study, researchers from the University of Florida studied “55 mialzce…bred to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD)” and found that “caffeine hampered the production of the” beta-amyloid “protein plaques which are the hallmark of” AD. The team used “behavioral tests to confirm the mice were exhibiting signs of memory impairment when they were aged 18 to 19 months, the equivalent to humans being about 70,” then “gave half the mice caffeine in their drinking water. The rest were given plain water.” The animals received “the equivalent of five 8 oz. (227 grams) cups of coffee a day — about 500 milligrams of caffeine.”
        The UK’s Telegraph (7/5) explained that “at the end of the two-month study, the caffeine-drinking mice performed far better on tests of memory and thinking than mice given only water.” In fact, “their memories were as sharp as those of healthy older mice without dementia.” For humans, the “equivalent dose for their body weight would be consuming 500 milligrams of caffeine a day, equivalent to five cups of ordinary coffee,” which is “the same amount of caffeine can be obtained by drinking two cups of strong coffee, 14 cups of tea, or 20 cola drinks.”
        HealthDay (7/5, McKeever) pointed out that, according to the study’s authors, “consuming 500 milligrams of caffeine a day would not cause ill effects for most people,” but “people with high blood pressure or who are pregnant need to limit their caffeine intake.” Notably, the study authors “also found that caffeine did not improve the memory of normal mice as it did for the Alzheimer’s mice.” They concluded, “This suggests that caffeine will not increase memory performance above normal levels. Rather, it appears to benefit those destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease.”

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bpMedWire (6/17, Cowen) reported that, according to a study published in the journal Bipolar Disorders, “elevated mood and decreased sleep can distinguish bipolar disorder from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) in very young children.” For the study, researchers from the Pennsylvania State University Medical School “examined the course of individual symptoms over the first 10 years of life in 27 children with bipolar disorder, who were diagnosed before nine years of age, and 22 children with” AD/HD. Next, “the children were rated by a parent for the presence and severity of 37 symptoms.” While “the team found the symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and decreased attention span were very common and showed a similar course in both groups,” they also discovered that “extended periods of mood elevation and decreased sleep were significantly more common in the bipolar children than in those with” AD/HD, and “were strong differentiators between the two disorders from as young as three years of age.” These differences “increased in magnitude over the first 10 years of life.”

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curBBC News (6/4) reports that, because of curcumin, a component of tumeric which has been linked to slowing “the spread of amyloid protein plaques — thought to cause dementia – in the brain,” a US researcher has suggested that “eating a curry once or twice a week could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.” However, “the theory, presented at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ annual meeting, has been given a lukewarm reception by UK experts.” At the meeting, Professor Murali Doraiswamy, MD, of Duke University, said there was “evidence that people who eat a curry meal two or three times a week have a lower risk of dementia.” Dr. Doraiswamy “stressed that eating a curry could not counter-balance the increased risk of dementia associated with a poor diet,” but added, “If you have a good diet and take plenty of exercise, eating curry regularly could help prevent dementia.” Rebecca Wood, of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, however, “stressed that people would need to eat a lot of curry — over 100g of turmeric curry powder — to get a clinical dose of curcumin.”

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