marijuana reverse

Tetrahydrocannabinol is the chemical present in marijuana responsible for it’s psychological effects. Discovered in 1964, it was first isolated and synthesized in Israel by a scientist called Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. He actually did this illegally by obtaining cannabis from his friends in the police force after his curiosity got the better of him. The active compounds in cocaine and in heroin had been isolated but not in marijuana; the reason for his interest. This ‘high’ that is experienced can be seen from two viewpoints: those who seek it more often than not describe it positively and those on the outside or experienced negative effects see it as life changing and often ‘ruining’.

In this article i will be focusing on the latest discovery at University of Western Ontario, in which researchers there have identified a mechanism, located in the prefrontal cortex, that is responsible for the negative affects of THC such as mental health, of marijuana use, specifically in adolescents. Consequently they were also able to identify a mechanism to reverse the risks. According to the study THC modulates the activity of a neurotransmitter called GABA (which has previous links of clinical association with schizophrenia.) It works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter regulating excitation activity: therefore if you have less GABA your neuronal systems become more hyperactive. Hyperactivity of the brain is consistent with schizophrenia traits such as hallucinations. The study showed that exposure to THC in adolescence not only reduced the amount of GABA but also caused it to be out of sync with other areas of the brain resulting in a hyperactive state in the brains dopamine system during adulthood. The researchers used rats and tested drugs designed to increase the levels of GABA being produced: the rats had reduced and in some cases eliminated schizophrenia symptoms.

There is an ongoing battle on whether marijuna should be legalised or not in many countries. Whether for medicinal or recreational use, the question remains. Research such as that at the University of Western Ontario is a breakthrough for those who thrive on positive effects, and those who argue against it due to the negative side effects because it means the negatives can be blocked by taking medication to increase GABA levels.

 

References: Justine Renard, Hanna J. Szkudlarek, Cecilia P. Kramar, Christina E. L. Jobson, Kyra Moura, Walter J. Rushlow, Steven R. Laviolette. Adolescent THC Exposure Causes Enduring Prefrontal Cortical Disruption of GABAergic Inhibition and Dysregulation of Sub-Cortical Dopamine Function. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-11645-8

https://www.livescience.com/24553-what-is-thc.html

statins for alzheimers

Recently, I read an interesting article on a major new study taking place: statins that are linked to a reduced chance of Alzheimers. 400,000 patients were reviewed after taking the statin and it was seen to reduce their chances by 12-15%. Scientists behind the study say the link may be explained by an interplay between cholesterol, which is regulated by the drug, and beta-amyloid, which plays a role in dementia. Maybe it could also be linked with the anti-inflammatory property of statins themselves could be potentially protecting against the disease? The study showed the results researchers were looking for for a positive outcome only when participants took the statin every single day, compared to those who took them more spaciously: they saw a significantly lower percentage. A slightly higher percentage was witnessed for women compared to men and interestingly they had no effect on men of pure African descent. However, obviously comes critical question of is there actually a link between taking the statin and a reduced chance of degenerative disease such as dementia and alzheimers?

statins“The right statin type for the right person at the right time may provide a relatively inexpensive means to lessen the burden of Alzheimer’s,” said Professor Julie Zissimopoulos, who led the research.”‘

The research team also examined the potential roles of different types of statin and found that pravastatin and rosuvastatin were particularly associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s in white women which backs up Professor Zissimopoulos’ previous comment emphasising the importance of having the right statin that meets the persons specific needs. This particular study took place in South Carolina, USA although degenerative disease is something that effects us all in one way or another, through family, friends or ourselves expressing symptoms of the conditions. I’m aware there has been a number of studies in the past trying to clear up whether statins that lower cholesterol also show a reduced risk producing mixed results that don’t offer a simple yes/no conclusion. This study goes some way to help clear up this confusion by analysing large amounts of existing data of people who use different types of statins over a long period of time and looking at their results. Despite this new data being published in South Carolina, the Alzheimer’s research charity still state that the best preventative measure is regular exercise and good diet.The article was published in the telegraph newspaper – December 2016

I also found an interesting article which can be found at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20182019 which looks at this from a different perspective which is valuable to look at. It also goes into more detail than the newspaper does so can give a more scientific view rather than just the opinion of the person that wrote the article.

HSSU

15th February 2015, i visited the HSSU- a place i had never heard of before with regard to the hospital and i have to say when i first heard that it was a cleaning facility i had expected something not to my taste, however i was so pleasantly surprised at how fascinating and beneficial i found this placement. I began with a tour of the whole department right from where dirty surgical equipment came in to where it leaves after a final sterialisation, i expanded on my prior knowledge of health and safety and hygiene, from previous placements and from my job, as well as the importance of risk assessments for not only the patient but also all the staff members involved in the hospital as well. Sterialisation is key so full gloves, shoe covers, gown, hair covers had to be worn and disposed of/changed whenever i entered certain areas, it’s a very strict practice. I found protein checking particularly interesting, it shows up in bloods and fats so would be detectable from surgical procedures, to make sure it was all clean ready to go back to the theaters, protein checks had to be passed entirely otherwise equipment was sent right back to the start. This maintains that the staff are doing their job thoroughly and properly, but also that all the machines are working, each ‘kit’ and its separate instruments have tags that can trace distinctly what machinery its been in, who washed it, who tested and what surgery it came from, everything is traceable to narrow down any problems quickly if they occur. The wet room was most enjoyable for me as i love blood and anything i can get stuck into, the dirty equipment comes in covered in blood, fluid and bits of fat, we must first check if all the utensils are in the correct pack from surgery, scissors and pillars must be opened so they can be cleaned properly- everything is recorded in computers again so its traceable. autoclave

When in the washer it has to reach over 50 degrees so it kills all the bacteria inside, the completed sets are wrapped up twice with a ‘lip’ which is very important so that the surgeon and assistant can unwrap the pack without touching the sterile equipment directly whilst setting up, the tape that it gets wrapped in changes colour when sterile so its clear to see what is completed and ready to delivery- a very useful design feature. Once they’ve all been wrapped up they go through an autoclave which is the final step, as long as all the paperwork and computer records match up. All in all, i found that i now have a lot more respect for the different people that work together in a hospital to make it functional, without the HSSU surgeries wouldn’t go ahead and if it wasn’t done to such a high standard there would be a high rate of complications with regard to infection in operations.

work experience one

10th-14th Feb 2015, Queens Hospital Burton, Work Experience NHS

I’ve always said that something medical is my vocation, its all i want to do as a career, nothing else appeals and i always thought i would just train to be a doctor, a gp, cover a wide basis, see something new everyday, never specialise..however; i never really looked into anything else and i realised that by being so focused, i was also being quite close minded, so i applied for numerous work experience placements for a week in February to gain some kind of idea about what other careers there are within the medical field, its not all about doctors and nurses. The three places i decided to look into was the patient access center, ward 20 for some ward experience and the surgical cleaning department (something I’d never heard of before) so already, even by just choosing these placements, i had learnt that there was so much more within the hospital.

patient accessPatient access center: explored the computer booking systems with clinical assistant Jess, how to sort out cancellations and any problems with miscommunication in paperwork between doctor and patient, i was also allowed to listen in on some phone-calls, how to take the right approach to each patient, there’s so much more to booking appointments than a simple letter or phone call. Emailing also played a massive part in the appointment process, as well as the importance of colour coding files to keep them organised and prevent slots being wasted: if slots are wasted, it’s a loss of money down to the trust. Jess showed me how to do ‘ring a rounds’, leave answerphone messages professionally, file post and the importance of rotas and communicating properly with everyone involved.

Ward 20 was my second time on a ward, an orthopedic and trauma ward: I spent a while with some general nurses, cleaning beds, making tea and this is how i came to the conclusion that nursing is not for me, i want to be the one making significant differences in the trust to make people better, make physical differences and decisions for treatment, not just look after people whilst they are in the hospital with some pain killers and a hot drink, i want to do write ups and delve deeper into conditions, this is something i think nursing wouldn’t help with. Physio was something i was interested in as a child so i was lucky enough to spent the rest of my time with the physios learning what type of equipment was best suited to which patient and what options each of them could take. Problems we dealt with included respiratory and MAJ (muscles and joints), i also took away from this the fact that The physios also let me listen to a ladies chest through a stethoscope, she had a bottom left lung collapse, once i knew what i was listening for it was so obvious to notice she had a problem, we viewed the scans to verity this and i learn how to find bleeds and complications in some other patients scans.

After this i was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to speak to some patients that didn’t have people visiting them and although i can’t disclose information due to confidentiality there was one lady that has stuck with me significantly. She was elderly, frail and vulnerable looking, had broken both her hips after a fall at home which sounds awful enough but then i learnt she also had quite significant dementia, i spent over 40 minutes talking to her, listening to her tell stories, what she could remember of them and how much i reminded her of her granddaughter, how she wished her dementia wasn’t deteriorating, how she wished she could see her grandchildren grow up. For me, although i didn’t know it at the time, this is where i found what i was supposed to do, neuroscience is the specialism for me. I wanted to know what dementia was, the nitty gritty details, why it happedementianed, it’s implications, effects, everything, the more i asked the doctor on duty about it, the more i wanted to know, from then on it’s been all I’ve wanted to do at university.

 

 

The end of antibiotics?

Wednesday 10th February, I attended a conference at the studio theater of the Lichfield Garrick held by the Lichfield science and engineering society, this was a meeting that takes place once a month between all kinds of scientists, engineers and students to discuss latest medical topics and offer assistance to students.

antibiotic resistanceThe one i attended was of particular interest to me, it was all about the rise of super-bugs, whether or not we are approaching the end of antibiotics. The end being the worst case scenario but certainly the strength and effect medication is having on diseases and infections is decreasing, they are becoming less effective and us, as humans more susceptible to developing more and more infections as pathogens become more resistance to antibiotics. This, as established at the conference is due to natural selection up to a point but definitely made worse by our inability to take medication correctly sometimes, the full dosage for the full period. It’s so easy to feel a slight discomfort and take a couple of paracetamol to maximise our happiness however this is infact causing us to be more vulnerable to infection. The talk was co-ordinated by Professor Peter Lambert who works at Aston University, he explained the basics of virus vs disease right up to more complex antibiotic resistance. I hadn’t realised what a growing concern this was in modern day medicine until this point.

http://www.lses.org.uk/ –Lichfield Science and Engineering Society website

David Nott foundation

david nottDavid Nott is someone that most will not have heard of so I intend to inform on why I think he is such an extraordinary man. I chose to right a post on him after listening to a BBC radio 4 interview with him (funnily enough my tutor then mentioned the same interview about how much it touched him)- it was so heartfelt and sensitive to listen to would definitely recommend!

“I have been volunteering in conflict zones for over 20 years now. In that time I have worked in some of the most dangerous areas in the world, and witnessed what I thought was the worst of humanity. Sierra Leone, the Balkans, Afghanistan to name just a few, and I can honestly say that I thought I had seen it all… but Syria is different.

When I visited Syria with Syria Relief last year, I witnessed horrific injuries to innocent civilians from sniper fire. The victims were children and adults – some were pregnant women – and it was very upsetting. In the field hospitals my amazing Syrian medical colleagues and I managed to save a great deal of lives, but this year it was different.

Because of the barrel bomb attacks, the majority of patients I was seeing were children. They had the most horrific injuries – whole parts of their bodies were torn off by thousands of pieces of red-hot shrapnel. “

He faces torn off limbs, women shot through the womb by snipers, their babies delivered dead. Young men burned by incendiaries. He operates quickly, in primitive conditions, always short of supplies. In some field hospitals the background thud of bombs is constant. He squelches through blood. While he is repairing people and mentoring young surgeons, Nott holds it all together. That is what professionals do and why I idolise him so much. Not only for his neuroscience element to his profession but the fact he worked for a career and then goes above and beyond to use it to benefit people that not only need medical care urgently but also have little access to perhaps the quality and standard of surgery we have in countries such as America and the United Kingdom. This is just a basic understanding of his life and how extreme he takes his skills to, he also set up a charity called the David Nott foundation which I would like to make you all aware of.

 

The David Nott Foundation is a UK registered charity which provides surgeons and medical professionals with the skills they need to provide relief and assistance in conflict and natural disaster zones around the world.  As well as providing the best medical care, David Nott Foundation surgeons will train local healthcare professionals; leaving a legacy of education and improved health outcomes.

links and references:

https://audioboom.com/boos/2751337-syria-2014-a-new-interview-with-the-surgeon-david-nott

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2714424/It-s-like-Apocalypse-says-British-doctor-Gaza-In-harrowing-dispatch-heroic-NHS-surgeon-describes-horror-treating-child-bomb-victims-ceasefire.html

http://davidnottfoundation.com/

memories?

alzheirsThis post leads on from ‘dementia’

Memory loss is perhaps the most heart-breaking consequence of conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s: a lack of recognition, recall and understanding, watching someone get worse day by day and not being able to do anything about it must be shattering. Memory loss is often one of the first signs of dementia. Initially, memory lapses may be mistaken for the normal forgetfulness that often increases as people grow older or when they become very stressed. However, in someone with dementia it will gradually become apparent that the memory problems are becoming more severe and persistent. They will also be accompanied by changes in thinking and feeling that make it more difficult to cope with everyday life. Memory loss, as with any other aspect of dementia, affects each person differently. For example, some people with dementia retain certain skills until quite a late stage. They may recall a surprising range of facts or experiences, especially earlier memories, even though they are very forgetful about other things such as recent events or familiar situations.

 memory is defined as: ‘the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information’ or ‘something remembered from the past’

Imagine being unable to remember the past. Like a fading dream, your current consciousness is lost to eternity. While most regions of the brain play a role in memory, some areas are more crucial than others. There appears to be no single memory store, but instead a diverse taxonomy of memory systems, each with its own special circuitry evolved to package and retrieve that type of memory. Memories are not static entities; over time they shift and migrate between different territories of the brain. At the top of the taxonomical tree, a split occurs between declarative and non-declarative memories. Declarative memories are those you can state as true or false, such as remembering whether you rode a bicycle to work. Non-declarative memories are those that cannot be described as true or false, such as knowing how to ride a bicycle. A central hub in the declarative memory system is a brain region called the hippocampus. This undulating, twisted structure gets its name from its resemblance to a sea horse. Destruction of the hippocampus, through injury, neurosurgery or the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, can result in an amnesia so severe that no events experienced after the damage can be remembered. Studying patients has taught us where memories might be stored, but not what physically constitutes a memory. The answer lies in the multitude of tiny modifiable connections between neuronal cells, the information-processing units of the brain. These cells, with their wispy protrusions, hang like stars in miniature galaxies and pulse with electrical charge (to give a nice analogy on a more sobering topic). Thus, your memories are patterns inscribed in the connections between the millions of neurons in your brain. Each memory has its unique pattern of activity, logged in the vast cellular network every time a memory is formed. Research has shown that during recall of past events the original activity pattern in the hippocampus is re-established via a process that is known as “pattern completion”. During this process, the initial activity of the cells is incoherent, but via repeated reactivation the activity pattern is pieced together until the original pattern is complete. Memory retention is helped by the presence of two important molecules in our brain: dopamine and acetylcholine. Both help the neurons improve their ability to lay down memories in their connections. Sometimes, however, the system fails, leaving us unable to bring elements of the past to mind in conditions such as dementia.

The question I’ve been thinking about recently is ‘could memory loss be reversed?’ ‘can memories be brought back?’ we have defined what a memory is and how it is lost so surely with todays technology advances there is some way to potentially bring even the slightest recollection back? When researching this I found that Age UK do a ‘memory bank’ project, to help patients take a walk down memory lane almost- exciting.

‘People with dementia are shown specially selected films from people’s home movie collections on topics such as family holidays, work and school. It has been shown that the archive footage encourages older adults to talk about when they were younger. A participant in the trial explained that for many people with dementia, the memories still exist but need to be awakened by a trigger and the movies act as one.’

 

 

references:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/70fe2d75ed664f29972ff71472a40a26.htm (video link)

https://www.barchester.com/news/trips-down-memory-lane-could-help-dementia-patients

To donate:

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/

 

dementia

ghfghfgRecently, I have noticed an ever growing presence of articles, research and development of memory related conditions such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s, all devastatingly underestimated and something that effects so many indirectly and directly each year. As I’ve mentioned before my posts are full of my own opinions, I aim to educate and raise awareness on topics I find relevant and interesting. So what actually is dementia? we all hear the word bounced around but do we really have a clear idea of what is involved? The term “dementia” is used to describe the gradual deterioration of “intellectual” abilities and behaviour that eventually interferes with customary daily living activities. “Customary daily living activities” include balancing the check book, keeping a household going, driving the car, involvement in social activities, and working at one’s usual occupation. There may also be changes in personality and emotions. Contrary to popular belief, dementia is not a normal outcome of aging, but is caused by diseases that affect the brain. Dementia influences all aspects of mind and behaviour, including memory, judgment, language, concentration, visual perception, temperament, and social interactions. Although dementia symptoms are eventually obvious to everyone, in the early stages special evaluations are necessary to demonstrate the abnormalities. Dementia is not a single disease, but a set of symptoms and signs related to multiple diseases or brain injuries often devastating for not only the person, but family members as they are perhaps more aware of the seriousness of the outcome than the person, they carry the emotion of seeing a loved one slip in an incapable state, heart-breaking. Although dementia symptoms are eventually obvious to everyone, in the early stages special evaluations are necessary to demonstrate the abnormalities. In people over the age of 65, the most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of brain degeneration in which abnormal particles called neurofibrillary tangles and neurotic plaques form in the brain and destroy healthy neurons (brain cells).

These abnormalities tend to settle in brain areas that control the ability to learn a new fact and remember it 30 minutes, or a day later, a skill we refer to as “memory”. Years of studying dementias have shown that Alzheimer’s disease is not the only type of brain degeneration. There are other forms of brain degeneration, many of which can affect people in their 50’s or even 40’s! Many treatments are being evaluated, but as of yet, there is no cure. There are a number of medications currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease. Donepezil (Aricept), Rivastigmine (Exelon) and Galantamine (Razydyne) are medications which block the enzyme, acetylcholinesterase, which is one of the enzymes responsible for degrading acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter in the brain, which is crucial for the formation of memories. Drug trials with these medications show that cognitive abilities can be improved over baseline for up to 6-12 months after starting a cholinesterase inhibitor. These medications have also been shown to improve some of the behaviours associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Common side effects seen with all of the cholinesterase inhibitors include nausea, diarrhoea, and dizziness.

Another medication with a different mechanism of action has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Memantine (Namenda) is a medication which helps improve cognition by blocking the over stimulating effects of excessive glutamate, a mechanism which appears to be a major factor in cell injury and death in Alzheimer’s disease. Common side effects seen with memantine include dizziness, confusion and headache. Researchers are also trying to develop other methods of blocking the product of amyloid plaques or enhancing their clearance from the brain. There are also a number of psychiatric medications, which are used to treat the behavioural disturbances which commonly develop in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease such as depression, apathy, aggressive behaviour, delusional thinking ect.. Medications used to treat these behavioural and psychiatric symptoms include antidepressants, antipsychotic and mood stabilizing medications. In addition to medication, treatment for Alzheimer’s disease involves a wide range of other measures and treatments to help people with dementia live as independently as possible. For example, an occupational therapist can identify problems or unsafe areas in their everyday life and help people to develop strategies or use alternative tools to manage these. Prompting items may be calendars, diaries, phone reminders ect.also, adding grab bars and handrails to the home to help them move around safely.

Perhaps what I find most interesting is the cognitive approach to therapies: psychological treatments, such as cognitive stimulation, may be offered to help improve your memory, problem solving skills and language ability, music and art therapy, reminiscence and relaxation therapies may also be offered. These may help with managing depression, anxiety, agitation, hallucinations, delusions and challenging behaviour that can occur with Alzheimer’s disease. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave, it’s pretty interesting really. I will explain a little more into this therapy: CBT cannot remove your problems, but it can help you deal with them in a more positive way. It is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle. CBT aims to help you crack this cycle by breaking down overwhelming problems into smaller parts and showing you how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel. I have included below a link to a site called ‘mind’ it is in bold, it explains CBT in more detail but in a straight forward however not patronising manner. I find it so helpful not only for research into dementia but also topics such as depression and anxiety it is so worthwhile reading if anyone is struggling. It offers tips, links to other helpful sites and phone numbers should anyone need it. Definitely recommend!

references and useful websites:

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-cbt/#.V1glVLeYb4Y

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=147

https://www.unforgettable.org/blog/what-is-positive-risk-taking-and-is-it-a-risk-worth-taking/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Dementia%20Advice&utm_term=%2Bdementia%20%2Btreatments&utm_content=Dementia_Treatment_BMM

http://alzheimersglobalstudy.com/en-gb/index/?as=857

 

the anorexic brain

tuytuEating disorders are something that have effected me on many levels through the years, the way the brain works in accordance to them is something I could never get tired of looking into. This post will be specifically on Anorexia as it is what I have researched. EDs are something that I feel many people overlook, the depth of knowledge and sensitivity needed to understand them is so important, hopefully this post will help both me and you to understand a bit better how they effect people. Often people with anorexia have low confidence and poor self esteem, they can see their weight loss as a positive achievement that can help increase confidence. Within itself, it is a serious mental illness where people keep their overall body weight low by dieting, vomiting, excessive exercising or laxatives. The way people view themselves can often be so distorted to how the rest of the world sees them and it is this main focus that leads to the dangerous measures people take with regard to food, often hiding their behaviour from family, friends and health professionals. This illness is serious. It can cause severe physical problems as well as the mental implications that starving the body leads to. Muscle wastage, reduced bone strength and altering of periods in women are just a few of these awful characteristics.

Personally I feel society has, not shunned, but become accustomed to the existence of EDs and almost reluctant to accept they shouldn’t be within an ideal, happy society: they effect so many people, young and old alike, it is not a purely lifestyle choice but a severe mental illness that kills thousands of people globally a year whether that be through the physical symptoms, development of other conditions through it, or by taking their own life. Surely more should be done? I for one, know of people that struggle with an ED no matter how minor they may consider it and it is so difficult to approach someone that you feel does have a problem, particularly if they don’t see it as a big issue themselves however, the life long challenges that can occur are not worth the frustration a sufferer may feel with you for getting them help. Anorexia affects millions throughout the world, males and females alike. It has a high mortality rate and the current therapies are just not sufficient enough. 10-30% of adults with the condition recover based purely on counselling and psychotherapy. The need for better treatments is obvious and urgent. Our physical and mental health, relationships, and day-to-day life are all affected and challenged by disordered eating habits’ pervasive nature. Disrupted eating behaviors negatively affect adequate nutrition absorption; thus, the brain does not get the nutrients it needs to function properly. Scientists, doctors, and psychologists are discovering more about how eating disorders like anorexia affect our brains physically, mentally and emotionally. While there is clearly still much to be learned, it is very clear that a patient’s nervous system is negatively impacted when they have restrictive behaviors. Research has found that eating disorders may cause:

  1. Disruptions in neurotransmitter (chemicals that transmit signals from one nerve to another) behavior
  2. An increased risk for adolescents to develop neurological symptoms in early adulthood
  3. Parts of the brain undergo structural changes and abnormal activity during anorexic states
  4. Reduced heart rate, which could deprive the brain of oxygen
  5. Nerve-related conditions including seizures, disordered thinking
  6. A shrinking in the overall size of the brain, including both gray and white matter
  7. An adverse effect on the emotional centers of the brain which may lead to depression, irritability, and isolation

The cause of eating disorders is thought to be complex and influenced by psychological, cultural, and biological factors. However, the exact nature of these interactive processes remains unclear. The nerve cells in the brain use neurotransmitters, which are chemicals, to send messages to each other. Studies of these chemicals may help us learn more about disturbances of appetite, weight, and behaviour. Many people who have eating disorders have problems with depression, anxiety, and obsessions, in addition to alterations in eating patterns. One way of looking at this association between depression, anxiety, and abnormal eating patterns is to see if these problems represent some change in the activity of certain chemicals in the brain. Chemicals that may be of particular importance are the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters have been linked to the control of hunger as well as depression, anxiety, obsessions and physical activities. One problem in trying to determine if alterations in brain mechanisms are related to eating disorders is that studying chemicals in peoples’ brains has been very difficult until recently. Now, the technology of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) allows us to more clearly assess the activity of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. PET scanning produces images that show changes in brain chemistry which may be associated with eating disorders. More specifically, looking at the receptors for the serotonin system. Serotonin and dopamine molecules are secreted by neurons in the brain and work by stimulating specific receptors on other neurons. In this way, the neurons in the brain can communicate with each other. Some present research studies use PET images to examine if there are differences in serotonin and dopamine pathways in people who have suffered from eating disorders and those who have never had an eating disorder. By studying these differences, scientists hope to better understand the neurobiology of eating disorders such as anorexia.

References:

http://eating-disorders.org.uk/information/the-effects-of-under-eating/

http://www.healthyplace.com/eating-disorders/anorexia-nervosa/anorexia-health-problems-complications-of-anorexia/

http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=206433

Nanoparticles- tracking chemotherapy

One thing I love, is nanotechnology. It is innovative, technical and almost unbelievable what nanoparticles allow us to do in this day and age. In this particular article I’d like to talk about the tracing of chemotherapy in the body using these particles, something I read on the internet and looked into not so long ago.  The ability to track chemotherapy drugs at the cell level in real time in patients could revolutionize cancer care by helping doctors work out why two people may have different responses to the same treatment.

The original article I read can be found at the link below, it’s well worth a read, written by a Catharine Paddock.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/305220.php

Researchers at The Ohio State University have found a way to light up a common cancer drug so they can see where the chemo goes and how long it takes to get there. It includes an organic technique for creating this scientific breakthrough and in doing so have opened up a new frontier in their field. Previous efforts have been limited by dyes that faded quickly and by toxic elements, particularly metals which is obviously not the best.

“This is very important for personalized medicine. We really want to see what’s going on when we give chemo drugs and this work paves the way for the exciting endeavour,” said Mingjun Zhang, the biomedical engineering professor who led the study.
“You can combine your drug with this luminescent vehicle,” Zhang said of the tiny fluorescent particle devised in his lab. “Composed of natural amino acids, the nanoparticle is inherently biocompatible. Our biological machines can easily take care of it.”

This work was done in petri dishes in Zhang’s lab and work in animals is currently underway to test his amazing method further. Zhang and his colleagues sandwiched their peptide to a common chemotherapy drug so that its light was hidden until the two elements peeled apart upon entering the cells. Zhang noticed that the blue peptide, which can be seen under ultraviolet light, maintained its luminescence for extended periods of time. Previous work to track drugs using organic dyes has been hampered by their tendency to fade with time. It could be that this medical advance could give patients and their doctors information on how well and how quickly a medication is working for them.

I think this is very exciting for not only the future of nanoparticles but also the future of cancer treatments and gives hope to people that there are always better and better ways to fight such an awful disease. A better understanding of the complex interplay of cells and drugs is critical to development of treatments that are finely tuned for individual patients.