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

‘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

NIH-funded study finds teens prefer mint and mango vaping flavors

A new analysis suggests that teens prefer mint and mango as their vaping flavors of choice for e-cigarettes. Previous research showed that teens were attracted to nicotine vaping by the candy and fruit-flavored products offered by manufacturers. Products and trends are quickly evolving, and estimates of the specific e-cigarette flavors teens use are lacking; therefore, scientists wanted to find out which flavors are now preferred by teens. The report, published in JAMA, was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Cancer Institute, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products.

The study focused on JUUL products, the most widely used brand, which is available in multiple flavors. Data were from the 2019 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, which annually surveys eighth, 10th, and 12th grade students in U.S. schools. A randomly-selected third of MTF respondents were asked, “Which JUUL flavor do you use most often?”

Full story at National Institute of Drug Abuse

Atrial fibrillation: Daily alcoholic drink riskier than binge drinking

A new study suggests that drinking small amounts of alcohol frequently rather than having infrequent bouts of binge drinking is more likely to increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation (A-fib), a condition in which the heart beats irregularly.

“Recommendations about alcohol consumption have focused on reducing the absolute amount rather than the frequency,” says study author Dr. Jong-Il Choi, a professor in the department of internal medicine at the Korea University College of Medicine in Seoul.

“Our study suggests that drinking less often may also be important to protect against atrial fibrillation,” he adds.

Full story at Medical News Today