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Psychedelic Microdosing in Rats Appears to Reduce Anxiety And Depression

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A new study on rats in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience is one of the first to look at how small doses of the psychedelic drug N,N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, affects anxiety and depression symptoms.

The researchers chose to microdose the rats with DMT, administering a small amount (not enough to produce any hallucinogenic side effects), because its basic molecular structure exists in all other psychedelic drugs, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

DMT was also an attractive choice because of its link to ayahuasca, which is typically given during allotted periods that are spread out over time.

The experiment was also designed to be conducted on an intermittent schedule, according to David Olson, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the UC Davis departments of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Molecular Medicine.

Prior to this, only two other studies looked at microdosing. The studies, both published in 2018, looked at humans rather than animals.

One study observed 30 psychedelic retreat attendees as they tripped on psychedelic truffles, and the other surveyed 21 men through online private messaging about their previous microdosing experiences.

This new study, which lasted for two months, was the longest one yet and did not rely on survey responses.

Researchers conducted a variety of tests on male and female rats after injecting them each with a microdose of the drug to see how the substance, the main psychoactive component in ayahuasca, could potentially affect anxiety and depression symptoms.

After microdosing DMT, the rats appeared less anxious

Over a two month period, researchers gave the rats doses of DMT and ran a variety of tests, including memory tests, a maze test, and a swim test. All of these were chosen because the rats’ responses mimic potential human responses to fear, stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma, Olson told INSIDER.

Before any of the tests, the rats were given a higher dose of DMT than during the later microdosing portion of the experiment to see how the substance affected their anxiety levels.

After determining that high doses of DMT caused the rats to be more anxious – they froze in place rather than moving around like they usually do – the researchers began the microdosing.

The researchers conducted memory tests using a mild foot shock and tone sound to test the rats’ fear responses to immediate threats and post-traumatic event fear triggers.

The microdoses of DMT had no effects on the rats’ immediate fear-related memories, but the creatures did act less anxious and fearful during a trauma-related fear test involving the tone sound.

While microdosing didn’t help the rats get over immediate fears, it did help them deal with fear triggers, somewhat akin to what people with PTSD experience.

Other tests found that the microdosed rats showed fewer signs of a depressed-like state and had fewer anxious tendencies.

There were side effects of the microdosing experiment

The microdosing did have some side effects. The male rats gained significant weight during the experiments, but Olson said their body fat percentages remained the same, creating a big question mark for the researchers.

“We have no idea why this happened. They weren’t eating more and were actually eating less, and there were no hormone changes either,” Olson told INSIDER.

The female rats didn’t gain weight, but their neural structures changed and they lost spine density. Olson said this could have been due to the length of treatment and the amount of DMT given, but his team isn’t entirely sure.

The study also leaves unanswered questions about how the dosage of DMT could alter the effects it has on anxiety and depression.

And since these experiments were completed with rats, it’s hard to say how microdoses of DMT could affect humans with anxiety and depression.

The study does, however, offer some hope for the eventual use of DMT as a therapeutic treatment.

“If you eliminate [psychedelic drugs’] effects on perception, there is no need or reason to abuse them, which could help with creating a medicinal product,” Olson said.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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Centre approves MoU between India and UK on Cancer Research Initiative

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The Central government has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and U.K. on Cancer Research Initiative. The MoU was signed on 14th November 2018.

The India-UK Cancer Research Initiative will identify a core set of research challenges that address issues of affordability, prevention and care of cancer by bringing together leading Indian and UK experts across clinical research, demographic research, new technologies and physical sciences. The initiative will provide funding to develop new research alliances and undertake impactful research to enable significant progress against cancer outcomes.

The Initiative is a collaborative 5-year bilateral research initiative by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology, India and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) that will focus on affordable approaches to cancer. Both CRUK and DBT will invest £5 million (approx. 45 crore) each in this 5-year pilot, and seek further investment from other potential funding partners.

Over 5 years, the total research funding for the Initiative will be £10 million (approximately Rs. 90 crore). CRUK’s share for such funding will be £5 million (approx. Rs. 45 crore). DBT will match such funding by £5 million (approx. Rs. 45 crore). The matching funds will be as per prevailing rates at the beginning of financial year.

The Initiative is significant as despite the surge in technological, biomedical, clinical, and pharmaceutical innovations aimed at improving cancer outcomes, the overburdened healthcare systems across the globe remain ill equipped to meet the massive burden of escalating cancer care costs. The India-UK Cancer Research Initiative sets forth a roadmap for catalysing collaborations that align the best researchers, scientists, healthcare organizations and institutions to a multi-disciplinary research platform leading to high value, low cost outcomes for cancer care. Through this initiative, the number of positions for doctoral-level, post-doctoral level researchers and early career scientists are expected to grow. They will not only be trained in cutting technology but will also be trained in essential leadership and project management skills which would help them in securing tenure-track research positions in academia or in related bio-pharma industry.

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Scientists Have Captured Incredible Footage of Cells ‘Slingshotting’ in Human Tissue

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Even though our bodies feel solid, the cells within don’t always sit still in one spot. Scientists have now spotted cells ‘slingshotting’ themselves around, using tension in fibrous tissue to jump forward up to five times faster than we’ve ever seen before.

While researchers think this “slingshot migration” may play a role in the spread of cancer through the body, it might also be harnessed to help us send healthy cells to the parts of the body that need them the most.

To catch the speedy cells in transit, scientists set up artificial 3D scaffolds that modelled stromal tissue, the type of connective tissue surrounding organs in the human body. This tissue can either help or hinder the spread of diseases like cancer.

“I was definitely shocked seeing a cell move so fast,” says one of the researchers, biomedical engineer William Wang from the University of Michigan.

“What was even more surprising was then capturing this migration mode in multiple cell types and finding that their speed was so much faster than traditional modes of cell migration.”

What makes this study stand out is the use of that 3D scaffold rather than a 2D petri dish, getting the researchers closer to the conditions that exist inside the actual body.

The observed slingshotting works very much like the term would suggest, with cells pulling on surrounding tissue to create tension, then shooting forward when the tension gets released.

“We found that cells can move in this very distinct way that results in effective migration far faster than anything previously reported,” says one of the team, Brendon Baker from the University of Michigan.

There are various different types of cell migration, but we haven’t seen this one before. As imaging techniques improve, we’re starting to get a better understanding of how cells are able to make their way through the body, and more discoveries like this might be on the way.

sling cell bigThe ‘slingshot’ movement of cells (in pink) under the microscope. (University of Michigan)

In this case the bouncy mode of travel was found to apply to mesenchymal cells in fibres that provided just the right balance of softness and strength – tissue that was resistant enough to build up tension but not too resistant to prevent stretching in the first place.

It’s a cool effect when observed under a microscope, but there are sinister undertones. The researchers suggest this mechanism might contribute to cancer metastasis, when cancer cells move from the primary tumour to other parts of the body, a process that can directly involve stromal tissue.

Understand more details about the spread of cancer is crucial if we are to devise ways to stop it. And further down the line the technique could be harnessed to provide rapid relief to other types of diseases and injuries too.

“Given the prevalence of fibrous tissues, an understanding of how matrix structure and mechanics influences migration could improve strategies to recruit repair cells to wound sites or inhibit cancer metastasis,” conclude the researchers.

The research has been published in Nature Communications.

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Indian Pharma Market grew by 10% in February to Rs.10,762 cr

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The Indian Pharmaceutical Market has achieved a double digit growth of 10 per cent during the month of February 2019, slightly lower than the growth in January 2019 of 11.3 per cent as the respiratory and dermatology segments shown lower growth of 3.8 per cent and 9.8 per cent respectively. According to AIOCD-AWACS report, anti-infectives achieved growth of 4.6 per cent and Vitamins sales moved up by 9.9 per cent. All the chronic therapies including anti-diabetic notched up a high double digit growth of 16.1 per cent while Cardio grew by 15.9 per cent and CNS by 13.6 per cent during February 2019. Indian companies grew by 10.2 per cent and MNCs are growing slightly lower at 10 per cent.

The volumes are not showing encouraging upward trend for last three months. Growth Driver’s (GD) as volumes remained at 2.7 per cent and price increase of 4.9 per cent. Based on MAT GDs volumes worked out to 4.2 per cent and prices at 3.1 per cent. FDC related market showed negative growth of 50.5 per cent while the non FDC market showed a growth of 10.6 per cent. The single molecules grew at 10.3 per cent during February 2019. Price component of GD for the FDCs is 1.7 per cent, other GDs in terms of volumes are at negative 52.4 per cent while new products contributed only 0.1 per cent. The non FDC component growth drivers see volumes at 2.3 per cent, prices at 5.8 per cent while new products are growing at 2.6 per cent.

Among the top 50 corporate, 46 registered positive growth of IPM. Amongst the top 10 corporates, Torrent has the highest growth at 19.8 per cent followed by Lupin at 16.6 per cent and Intas at 15.3 per cent. Further, Ipca Laboratories registered growth of 32.5 per cent, followed by Micro growth at 16 per cent ans Sanofi moved up by 14 per cent. Abbott HC clocked growth of 3 per cent and Abbott India achieved growth of 15.9 per cent. Sun Portfolio has shown a growth of 7.4 per cent, while Ranbaxy also slower at 6.8 per cent. Emcure got a double digit growth of 10.5 per cent while Zuventus moved up faster at 16.7 per cent. Total 8 companies launched during last three years. Amongst the top 60 MNCs Boehringer Ingelheim achieved highest growth of 28.6 per cent followed by Bayer Zydus at 20.1 per cent and Sanofi at 14 per cent.

The NLEM 2013 containing molecules market showed growth at 6.2 per cent to Rs.1055 crore whereas the non NLEM market grew at 10.4 per cent to Rs.9,245 crore resulting in an overall growth of 10 per cent during February 2018.

From the therapy perspective, 19 therapies have shown a positive growth during February 2019. During the month Respiratory market moved up by 3.8 per cent, Derma at 9.8 per cent, Gastrointestinal by 8.7 per cent. Pain and analgesics achieved growth of 10.8 per cent and VMN 9.9 per cent. All the 31 regions have posted positive growth. Bihar market grew the highest by 22.3 per cent followed by MP growing at 19.4 per cent and Odissa growing at 19.3 per cent.

Amoxycillin plus clavulanic acid market grew by single digit growth of 8.1 per cent to Rs.189 crore and glimepiride plus metformin market achieved double digit growth rate of 12.1 per cent. Glimepiride plus metformin was pegged at 185 crore. Azilsartan plain market is now valued at Rs.73 crore on MAT basis. Sofosbuvir and its combination market has reached at Rs.760 crore on MAT basis. The luliconazole market is worth Rs.388 crore and tenegliptin and its combinations are valued at 880 crore on MAT basis. The market of paracetamol plain registered a double digit growth rate of 14.7 per cent on monthly basis and plain atorvastatin has posted a growth of 9.4 per cent. Montelukast polus levocetrizine has slowed down at 6.9 per cent. Voglibose plus metformin plus glimepiride has posted a double digit growth of 23.9 per cent.

Maxtard has posted monthly sales of Rs.41 crore, followed by Glycomemt GP at Rs.36 crore, Lantus at Rs.42 crore and Galvus met at Rs.35 crore. Liv 52 market reached at Rs.32 crore and that of Janumet capture sales of Rs.41 crore. Augmentin reached at Rs.37 crore. New launches Azilsartan and combinations are now valued at Rs.27 crore with launch of total 34 brands. There are 64 brands launched in last 24 months in the Luliconazole segment and these new launches are worth Rs.99 crore on MAT basis. Among the VMS category total 12 brands were launched during February 2019 and within cardiac there have been 4 brands.

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There’s Mounting Evidence That Parkinson’s Starts in The Gut – Not The Brain

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Scientists have found mounting evidence that Parkinson’s could start in the gut before spreading to the brain, with one study in 2017 observing lower rates of the disease in patients who had undergone a procedure called a truncal vagotomy.

The operation removes sections of the vagus nerve – which links the digestive tract with the brain – and over the course of a five-year study, patients who had this link completely removed were 40 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s than those who hadn’t.

According to the team led by Bojing Liu from the Karolinska Instituet in Sweden, that’s a significant difference, and it backs up earlier work linking the development of the brain disease to something happening inside our bellies.

If we can understand more about how this link operates, we might be better able to stop it.

“These results provide preliminary evidence that Parkinson’s disease may start in the gut,” said Liu.

“Other evidence for this hypothesis is that people with Parkinson’s disease often have gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, that can start decades before they develop the disease.”

The vagus nerve helps control various unconscious processes like heart rate and digestion, and resecting parts of it in a vagotomy is usually done to remove an ulcer if the stomach is producing a dangerous level of acid.

For this study, the researchers looked at 40 years of data from Swedish national registers, to compare 9,430 people who had a vagotomy against 377,200 people from the general population who hadn’t.

The likelihood of people in these two groups to develop Parkinson’s was statistically similar at first – until the researchers looked at the type of vagotomy that had been carried out on the smaller group.

In total, 19 people (just 0.78 percent of the sample) developed Parkinson’s more than five years after a truncal (complete) vagotomy, compared to 60 people (1.08 percent) who had a selective vagotomy.

Compare that to the 3,932 (1.15 percent) of people who had no surgery and developed Parkinson’s after being monitored for at least five years, and it seems clear that the vagus nerve is playing some kind of role here.

So what’s going on here? One hypothesis the scientists put forward is that gut proteins start folding in the wrong way, and that genetic ‘mistake’ gets carried up to the brain somehow, with the mistake being spread from cell to cell.

Parkinson’s develops as neurons in the brain get killed off, leading to tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with movement – but scientists aren’t sure how it’s caused in the first place. The new study gives them a helpful tip about where to look.

The Swedish research isn’t alone in its conclusions. In 2016, tests on mice showed links between certain mixes of gut bacteria and a greater likelihood of developing Parkinson’s.

What’s more, earlier in 2017 a study in the US identified differences between the gut bacteria of those with Parkinson’s compared with those who didn’t have the condition.

All of this is useful for scientists looking to prevent Parkinson’s, because if we know where it starts, we can block off the source.

But we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves – as the researchers behind the new study point out, Parkinson’s is complex condition, and they weren’t able to include controls for all potential factors, including caffeine intake and smoking.

It’s also worth noting that Parkinson’s is classed as a syndrome: a collection of different but related symptoms that may have multiple causes.

“Much more research is needed to test this theory and to help us understand the role this may play in the development of Parkinson’s,” said Lui.

The research was published in Neurology.

A version of this story was first published in April 2017.

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