NIH Solicits Research into Vaccines to Protect against Opioid Use

Opiate and opioid drugs killed 70,000 Americans1 in 2017, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latest grim note in a still growing addiction crisis and demanding a wide public health response. In May 2017, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, wrote that it was time for “all scientific hands on deck,” and highlighted the need to invest in new technologies beyond the standard toolset for reversing opioid drug overdoses and treating addiction.2

NIH has now announced new resources for research into one such alternate approach to combatting the opioid epidemic, immunotherapy.

A March 20 solicitation from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases3(NIAID), announced the division’s search for outside researchers interested in developing vaccines to protect against heroin and the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, with goal of awarding multiple groups contracts, according to Kentner Singleton, PhD, program officer in the basic immunology branch of NIAID. He expects to announce the awards by August 2020. “Once we make the awards, we can facilitate collaborations between all the different groups so we can leverage the strength of one group to minimize the weakness of another group, so that we can have a cohesive consortium of investigators all working towards the same goal in unison and in parallel,” he says. “At the end of the day, the goal is to have a product that is brought into clinical trials.”

Full story at Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

What to know about cluster A personality disorders

People define personality disorders in many different ways. According to one definition, a personality disorder is a mental health condition that affects how a person thinks and feels and how they relate to other people. Cluster A disorders usually involve awkwardness in social situations, distorted thinking, and distance from society and relationships.

There are 10 personality disorders in total, which healthcare professionals usually group in three categories: A, B, and C. The disorders within each category share some traits and symptoms. Group A comprises three specific disorders, which are called paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal disorder.

However, a person may have multiple personality disorders from different clusters or display traits that overlap between different types of personality disorder. As a result, diagnosing a personality disorder can be challenging.

Full story at Medical News Today

Featured Commentary: The Opioid Epidemic’s Untold Story

Last year, more Americans died of opioid overdoses than of many cancers, gunshot wounds, or even car crashes. In fact, by at least one metric, the epidemic is more dire for Americans than was the Vietnam War: while an average of 11 Americans died per day during the 14 years the U.S. was involved in Vietnam, nearly 120 Americans died per day of opioid overdoses in 2018 alone.

As families write obituaries, death notices are printed, and flowers are delivered to grieving loved ones, an important part of the story has gone largely untold. At some point, if they survive, most opioid abusers end up in court. Perhaps they have been arrested for stealing to feed their habits or perhaps an agency has deemed them unfit parents. Whatever the reason, one fact remains: the state court justice system is now the primary referral source for addiction treatment in the country.

Full story at drugfree.org

Michael Pollan: Not So Fast on Psychedelic Mushrooms

Only a few days ago, millions of American probably had never heard of psilocybin, the active agent in psychedelic mushrooms, but thanks to Denver, it is about to get its moment in the political sun. On Tuesday, the city’s voters surprised everyone by narrowly approving a ballot initiative that effectively decriminalizes psilocybin, making its possession, use or personal cultivation a low-priority crime.

The move is largely symbolic — only 11 psilocybin cases have been prosecuted in Denver in the last three years, and state and federal police may still make arrests — but it is not without significance. Psilocybin decriminalization will be on the ballot in Oregon in 2020 and a petition drive is underway in California to put it on the ballot there. For the first time since psychedelics were broadly banned under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, we’re about to have a national debate about the place of psilocybin in our society. Debate is always a good thing, but I worry that we’re not quite ready for this one.

Full story at The New York Times

Is it safe to drink alcohol while taking prednisone?

Prednisone is a synthetic form of adrenocortical steroid that doctors can prescribe to treat several different conditions.

Prednisone can help balance hormones in people whose adrenal glands do not produce enough corticosteroids.

It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and can help treat diseases that cause inflammation, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis. Prednisone can also alter the function of the immune system.

Whether they are taking a short course of the medication or need to use it long-term, people often wonder if they can drink alcohol while taking prednisone.

Full story at Medical News Today