Research in Dementia
There have been a number of interesting developments in therapeutics. A neurosurgical study is underway which involve gene therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease. A nerve growth factor will be delivered to cells in the Basal Nucleus of Meynert using an adenovirus vector. A drug 7,8-dihydroxyflavone has been identified which acts on the trk receptors just as Brain Derived Nerve Growth factor does and may therefore stimulate neurogenesis and it will be interesting to follow further studies in this area. A molecule Nmnat2 has been identified which is necessary for survival of neurons in vitro. Increasing levels of this molecule was associated with protection of neurons against insult.
Lansoprazole, more commonly used in the treatment of gastro-oesophageal reflux and gastric ulcers has found a new use this time for research in Alzheimer’s Disease. Lansoprazole has been found to bind to a pathological form of tau-protein which is found in the plaques associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and it’s use as a radioligand in PET studies is now being investigated.
Research in Alcohol Dependence
In research into the treatment of alcohol dependence, there has been found to be a strong relationship with Corticotrophin Releasing Factor in a murine model. A number of antagonists of CRF were successful in alleviating alcohol dependence related behaviours and it will be interesting to see the results of human trials.
Research in Mood Disorders
There are preliminary reports that a proprietary combination of Buspirone and Melatonin – BCI-952 is effective in people with depression on the basis of a 6-week trial (n=142) with various outcome measures although this is a press release and it will be useful to see the study in more detail when it is formally published. The significance of this is that the combination has been shown in vivo to stimulate neurogenesis which is hypothesised to be a mechanism of antidepressant action.
MindHacks has another episode of Spike Activity and includes links to a review of Jung’s Red Book and a mention of a pending meta-analysis on psychodynamic psychotherapy which apparently compares favourably other forms of psychotherapy on a range of disorders. The Clinical Cases and Images blog mentions a study comparing Lithium monotherapy, Valproate monotherapy and Lithium + Valproate in combination for prevention of Bipolar Disorder.
The Hawaii Medical Association is now offering patients virtual appointments with doctors and this will no doubt be followed with interest by other organisations.
One of the current questions in recent evolution is whether Neanderthals contributed to the human gene pool which would have many implications. A recent radiocarbon dating of a site in Portugal revises the date of the last Neanderthal remains to 37,000 years ago. This is significant in terms of the evaluation of a 30,000 year-old child’s skeleton which has properties of both Neanderthals and humans. In a recent study, Chimpanzees and Bonobos were compared on food tasks. The Chimpanzee infants performed differently to the Bonobos on tasks which involved identifying where food was located. The Bonobos were described as delayed in development relative to the Chimpanzees. Chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than Bonobos as Chimpanzees and Bonobos diverged some 1.3 million years ago. Slightly off-topic but the remains of a 7000-year old amputee in France shows evidence of surgical amputation without subsequent infection.
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