Targeting one gut bacterium may treat alcoholic liver disease

Precision targeting of bacteria in a different way to antibiotics shows promise as a treatment for alcoholic liver disease, according to new research in mice.

A recent Nature study paper describes how an international team of scientists used bacteriophages, which are viruses that kill bacteria, to eradicate alcoholic liver disease in mice.

They used a particular mixture of phages to selectively eliminate Enterococcus faecalis, a gut bacterium that releases a toxin that kills liver cells.

They found that people with alcoholic liver disease had more E. faecalis in their guts than people without this condition.

Full story at Medical News Today

At Least 2.2 Million U.S. Children Affected by Opioid Crisis: Report

A new report estimates at least 2.2 million children had been affected by the opioid crisis in the United States by 2017.

That number is likely to increase, according to the report by the United Hospital Fund, a health policy nonprofit. Many of the children are living with a parent addicted to opioids or have been removed from their home, according to U.S. News & World Report. The report found 170,000 children had opioid use disorder themselves, or had accidentally ingested opioids.

There could be 4.3 million children affected by the opioid crisis by 2030, at a cost of $400 billion, the report estimated.

Full story at Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Specialists call for ‘aggressive’ measures against e-cigarettes

After uncovering a key mechanism that could explain how e-cigarettes harm the lungs, brain, and cardiovascular system, a team of researchers now calls for much stricter regulation of these electronic devices.

Electronic cigarettes — e-cigarettes, for short — were developed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, in an effort to help wean smokers off their harmful habit.

However, evidence has increasingly come to light that the liquid that goes into an e-cigarette and the materials of the devices themselves contain dangerous levels of toxic substances that can harm health.

Full story at Medical News Today

‘Benzos’ Are Rising in Popularity Among Teens and They’re Getting Them On Social Media

Teen addiction to benzodiazepines, called “benzos” for short, is on the rise, and these drugs are easier for teens to access—and get addicted to—than most parents think. In fact, they can be as easy to order as direct-messaging a dealer on Instagram.

“Benzodiazepines are one of the most commonly prescribed classes of psychoactive drugs,” says Lawrence Weinstein, M.D., chief medical officer at American Addiction Centers. “In the past 20 years, benzodiazepine prescriptions for adolescents have doubled. With the medication being so prevalent, it is not uncommon for a teen to either be prescribed the medication themselves, have a parent who keeps a prescription in the home, or know of someone with that prescription.”

Even if teens do not have direct access to a prescription, finding a supplier can be as simple as logging into their social networks like Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. “Where teens are getting these drugs from is simple: If they are social and tech-savvy, they can access them,” says Dr. Weinstein.

Full story at Parents.com

Fingerprint test can distinguish between those who have taken or handled heroin

A state-of-the-art fingerprint detection technology can identify traces of heroin on human skin, even after someone has washed their hands — and it is also smart enough to tell whether an individual has used the drug or shaken hands with someone who has handled it.

In a paper published by The Journal of Analytical Toxicology, a team of experts from the University of Surrey detail how they have built on their world-leading fingerprint drug testing technology, based on high resolution mass spectrometry, which is now able to detect heroin, its metabolite, 6-monoacetylmorphine (6-AM) and other analytes associated with the class A drug.

The team took fingerprints from people seeking treatment at drug rehabilitation clinics who had testified to taking heroin or cocaine during the previous 24 hours. A fingerprint was collected from each finger of the right hand, and the participants were then asked to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water and then wear nitrile gloves for a period of time before giving another set of fingerprints. This same process was used to collect samples from 50 drug non-users.

Full story at Science Daily