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Genes May Dictate Smoking Cessation Treatment

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

A recent study supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found genetic variants that seem to indicate which smokers trying to quit might benefit from certain treatments and which may not.

The treatments in question were the prescription medication bupropion (Zyban) and forms of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

“We have long known that smoking cessation treatments that help some people fail to help others,” says NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow. “These findings shed light on the genetic variations that underlie these differences in treatment response, and this knowledge may help make it possible to match smokers with the type or intensity of smoking cessation treatment most likely to benefit them.”

Using a technique called ‘genome-wide association scans’, researchers compared the DNA of smokers who were either successful or unsuccessful in quitting using bupropion (Zyban) or a form of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). They were able to spot gene variants present more frequently in the successful quitters.

Results showed that the genetic variants were different in those who were successfully treated with bupropion than in those who were helped by NRT.

Dr. George R. Uhl, chief of NIDA’s molecular neurobiology research branch in Baltimore, MD, who led the study, said “Our results provide the first genome-wide evidence that the genetics of successful smoking cessation with bupropion are different from the genetics of successful smoking cessation with NRT. These findings suggest that we may be able to improve the success rate for smoking cessation by using results of simple DNA tests.”

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Source: NIH
Date: June 5, 2008

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Cocaine Research Focused on Brain’s Chemical Balance

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

There are currently no approved medications to treat cocaine abuse, but one medical school is out to try and change that. The University of Texas Medical School at Houston is currently researching drugs that will help to restore the chemical balance in the brain thrown out of whack by cocaine use.

Chronic cocaine abuse makes physiological changes in the brain, some affecting neurotransmitters responsible for impulsivity, making decisions, and rewards, according to Professor F. Gerard Moeller, Ph.D, in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. “If we can restore the balance of the neurotransmitters back to the way it was before the cocaine, then other therapies such as behavioral therapy will work better.”

For more information about research at UT, or to participate in a clinical trial, the public can call 713-500-DRUG (3784).

Source: Newswise
Date: June 4, 2008

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Vancouver’s Medicinal Heroin Trial Ending

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

The first medically prescribed heroin trial in North America is drawing to a close after almost a full year.

The $8-million North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI), funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and approved by Health Canada, sought to see what difference it would make in the lives of heroin addicts if they did not have to obtain their drug of choice in the illicit drug trade but could visit a clinic to obtain the drug.

Heroin addicts in the program, all of whom had been addicted for many years and all of whom had repeatedly attempted and failed to get clean on Methadone, were granted three visits each day.

According to Martin Schechter, of the University of B.C.’s faculty of medicine and the trial’s lead investigator, preliminary findings suggest that the treatment was safe and without any security problems and that 85% of the program’s participants stayed in the year-long program.

Similar European studies have shown that heroin treatment in this manner is far more cost effective than paying to fund the costs for health and criminal-justice services generally applied to people addicted to drugs like heroin.

Whether or not the program continues in the near future remains uncertain, but Schechter added, “What was really common was that people would say that, for the first time, they didn’t wake up thinking about how to get their next fix.”

Source: The Globe and Mail
Date: June 2, 2008

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Computer Programs May Help Addicts Stay Sober

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Computer-based training, when combined with traditional therapy, may give addicts in treatment a better chance at recovery.

A Yale University study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, focused on seventy-seven people in treatment for addiction. Either they received traditional counseling, or they were given computer-assisted training based on principles of cognitive behavioral therapy and given sessions with a therapist. At the end of the study, all the patients were given drug tests.

Substantially fewer patients who got the computer-assisted training tested positive in those drug tests, according to Kathleen M. Carroll, professor of psychiatry and the study’s lead author. She added, “We think this is a very exciting way of reaching more people who may have substance use problems and providing a means of helping them learn effective ways to change their behavior.”

To read more about the study, or about the contents of the computer-assisted training program, click here.

Source: Science Daily
Date: May 23, 2008

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Campral Tested for Gambling Disorders

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Researchers at University Hospitals in Iowa City and at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha have begun to study the potential effectiveness in using Campral to treat gambling disorders.

According to study co-director and president of the National Council on Problem Gambling
Dr. Dennis McNeilly, the study is considering Campral as part of a wider treatment program involving counseling.

Campral’s effectiveness with alcoholics is believed to derive from the drug’s ability to block pleasure receptors in the brain that respond favorably to alcohol, thereby reducing one’s interest in drinking. Since gamblers endure the same type of pleasure response from gambling, McNeilly sees a possible correlation.

“If we can help people deal with their thinking that’s repetitive or their cravings that they have for gambling through a medication, then we can get them to a point where they can begin to look at, ‘Gee, how has this affected by life and maybe I need to make different kinds of decisions.’”

Source: Radio Iowa
Date: May 15, 2008

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Probuphine Offers Hope for Long Term Opioid Addiction

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Titan Pharmaceuticals is in phase III of its clinical trials for Probuphine, the company’s opiate addiction treatment that, by using its proprietary ProNeura drug delivery system, delivers buprenorphine at a constant, therapeutic level for a period of six months.

Buprenorphine is the partial opiate agonist found in the sublingual pill Suboxone. Probuphine is inserted under the skin in a simple office procedure that requires about fifteen minutes, and thus far, trials have shown a considerable amount of success.

The benefits of a subcutaneous delivery system are that it eliminates or significantly mitigates the inconsistency of compliance, varying levels of the drug in the blood, and the potential for abuse.

Source: Titan Pharmaceuticals
Date: May 5, 2008

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Conference Focuses on Mental Illness and Addiction

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Organized by Mayor Sam Sullivan and the city of Vancouver, Collaboration for Change’ is bringing together a number of experts from different fields, including academics, city officials, health managers and health workers to discuss solutions to dual diagnosis individuals, addicts who have also been diagnosed with a mental illness.

Despite being among the most progressive cities in the world when it comes to dealing with drugs and addiction, the city does not have an agency or program that specifically deals with dual diagnosis individuals, a group that many believe constitutes a substantial number of the city’s homeless people.

Typically, these people run into a catch-22: many addiction programs are disinclined to accept addicts who also suffer from mental illness, while therapists and mental health counselors often advise them that until they are drug-free, they can’t receive counseling.

Source: The Vancouver Sun
Date: May 1, 2008

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Teen Drinking Likely To Cause More Problems in Adulthood

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

The results of a four-year study published in the journal Pediatrics makes some dire conclusions about the long-term effects of teen drinking.

In short, the studies’ authors concluded that the changes that are occurring in the brains of teens as they mature make them more likely to take risks, such as drink alcohol. Unfortunately, the part of the brain that can analyze and protect them against those risks remains under-developed. Those natural physiological changes, augmented by alcohol and not inhibited by an ability to ascertain risks, can lead to serious problems for teen drinkers into adulthood.

The study concluded that:

• Heavy teen drinkers are almost 5 times as likely as other teens to struggle with alcohol, depression, and having healthy relationships in adulthood;
• They were less likely to finish college;
• They earn less money and work at less fulfilling jobs;

Unfortunately, the study did not indicate whether heavy teen drinkers were genetically or environmentally pre-disposed to drug or alcohol problems.

Source: US News & World Report
Date: Apr. 19, 2008

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Drug Addicted Babies Prone to SIDS and ADHD

Friday, April 18th, 2008

The number of children born to mothers addicted to drugs is on the rise and has been for a number of years. Experts have continually warned that abusing drugs during pregnancy can cause severe problems for the children, including being born with hideously painful withdrawal symptoms and health issues that can affect them long-term.

Withdrawal symptoms include shivering, cramps, irritability, feeding issues or fits, depending on the abused drug. Children can also be born with low birth weight; a number of research studies have linked drug abuse during pregnancy to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); and it is not uncommon for those children to suffer later in life from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

According to a spokesman for Addaction, a drug treatment agency in the UK, “Drug use among parents is a big problem and it has been on the increase for some years. “Pregnancy can be a catalyst for people to stop using drugs but, in some cases, that does not happen.”

Source: Birmingham Sunday Mercury
Date: Apr. 18, 2008

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Researchers Uncover Smoking and Lung Cancer Gene

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Researchers at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston believe they have uncovered a genetic variation that may predispose some people towards cigarette addiction and make them more susceptible to developing lung cancer — as much as 80% higher than those without the variation. This finding may in the future allow for the development of screening tests and various treatments to aid those smokers in ending their addiction.

According to Christopher Amos, of the authors of the study, the gene is “kind of a double whammy … It also makes you more likely to be dependent on smoking and less likely to quit smoking.”

The study, being published in the journals Nature and Nature Genetics, may also help to explain why some people can smoke for a lifetime and not develop lung cancer

Source: AP
Date: Apr. 9, 2008

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