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June 16, 2017

Neuroscience – SciPol Weekly, July 10 – July 16

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Government

Bloomberg – Opioid Costs Push Struggling States to Dust Off Tobacco Strategy

State and local leaders fighting a worsening opioid-abuse epidemic are studying tactics used in the tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s, as they try to claw back billions from the companies who make and sell the powerful painkillers. More than 20 U.S. states, counties and cities have sued firms including Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma Inc., and McKesson Corp. in the past year, claiming they fueled a public-health crisis with misleading marketing and aggressive distribution of opioids. 

The Hindu – India: Govt. finally goes ahead to test microcephaly-Zika link

Although it detected 260 cases of microcephaly in India since February 2016, during an investigation to study the link between the condition and the Zika virus, the Health Ministry did not test the babies for the virus citing shortage of laboratory capacity. On Tuesday, a three month old Delhi baby detected with ‘severe microcephaly’ tested negative for Zika, making it the first case where the Ministry ran blood work for Zika since the 2015-16 global outbreak

The New York Times – When Opioid Addicts Find an Ally in Blue

Opioids are cutting through the country, claiming increasing deaths and, in some cities, wrecking more lives than traffic fatalities and murders combined. Police leaders are weary of the scenes: 911 calls; bodies with needles in their arms; drugs called “fire” strewn about. They are assigning themselves a big role in reversing the problems. They are working with public health officials, and carrying more antidote for heroin and its synthetic cousin fentanyl.

The Wall Street Journal – New York: Nassau County Sues Drugmakers Over Opioid Epidemic

Nassau County filed a lawsuit Monday against several pharmaceutical companies, alleging their prescription painkillers helped fuel the opioid epidemic that costs the county millions of dollars annually to combat.

Industry

The Washington Post – Tweaking brains with ‘smart drugs’ to get ahead in Silicon Valley

George Burke has a talent for tossing back his daily cocktail — which contains vitamins, minerals, muscle-building compounds, some little-known research drugs and a microdose of LSD — in almost a single gulp. It’s a weird but handy trick for someone who swallows 25 pills a day, most of them purchases off the Internet. Burke credits the regimen with giving him the cognitive edge he needs to thrive in California’s Silicon Valley, where he’s the co-founder of a food service that caters to athletes and fitness devotees.

Science 

Forbes – Alzheimer's Affects Twice As Many People As Estimated, And The Numbers Are Climbing

New research into the biomarkers that predict the onset of Alzheimer’s suggests that more than twice as many people are in some stage of the disease than the official numbers indicate. Roughly 5.4 million people in the US are estimated to have Alzheimer’s, but that number is likely closer to 11 million when including those who aren't yet symptomatic.

Live Science – Parkinson's May Begin in Gut Before Affecting the Brain

Parkinson's disease, which involves the malfunction and death of nerve cells in the brain, may originate in the gut, new research suggests, adding to a growing body of evidence supporting the idea. The new study shows that a protein in nerve cells that becomes corrupted and then forms clumps in the brains of people with Parkinson's can also be found in cells that line the small intestine. The research was done in both mice and human cells.

NPR – Brain Cell Transplants Are Being Tested Once Again For Parkinson's

Researchers are working to revive a radical treatment for Parkinson's disease. The treatment involves transplanting healthy brain cells to replace cells killed off by the disease. It's an approach that was tried decades ago and then set aside after disappointing results. Now, groups in Europe, the U.S. and Asia are preparing to try again, using cells they believe are safer and more effective.

NPR – Is Zika Dangerous For Kids? It Probably Depends On The Age

Zika may have fallen from headlines, especially with everything going on in politics these days, but the threat remains. And recommendations for pregnant women haven't changed: Pregnant women — and those trying to get pregnant — should not travel to places where the Zika virus is circulating. It's just too risky because Zika can cause birth defects. But what about babies? Or kids? Is it safe to travel with them?

Scientific American – Smell Test May Sniff Out Oncoming Parkinson's and Alzheimer's

Sight and hearing get all the glory, but the often overlooked and underappreciated sense of smell—or problems with it—is a subject of rapidly growing interest among scientists and clinicians who battle Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Impaired smell is one of the earliest and most common symptoms of both, and researchers hope a better understanding will improve diagnosis and help unlock some of the secrets of these incurable conditions.

STAT – Minority communities will be hit hardest by soaring rates of Alzheimer’s disease

It’s time to stop side-stepping the obvious: In addition to affecting the lives of virtually all Americans in the coming years, Alzheimer’s disease will devastate communities of color. We must act with urgency and coordinated force today to prevent that from happening. According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alzheimer’s deaths increased by 55 percent among all Americans between 1999 and 2014. But they increased 99 percent for African-Americans and 107 percent for Latinos. 

The Washington Post – Fever during pregnancy may increase autism risk in offspring

A mother’s fever during pregnancy, especially in the second trimester, is associated with a higher risk that her child will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, researchers reported Tuesday. Three or more fevers after 12 weeks of gestation may be linked to an even greater risk of the condition.

Other

CBS Sports – Tom Brady's dad on whether QB had a concussion last season: 'He wouldn't tell us'

Last month, Gisele Bundchen told "CBS This Morning" that her husband, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, suffered a concussion at some point during the 2016 season. And now Tom Brady Sr. tells the Boston Globe that he wasn't aware of any concussion suffered by his son.

CNN – Doctors: Ex-North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier has severe brain injury

Doctors caring for released North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier said he has not spoken or moved on his own since he arrived in the United States on Tuesday, a condition they described as "unresponsive wakefulness" or persistent vegetative state. The 22-year-old has suffered extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of the brain, doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said in a news conference Thursday.

NPR – A Pulse Nightclub Responder Confronts A New Crisis: PTSD

Gerry Realin says he wishes he had never become a police officer. Realin, 37, was part of the hazmat team that responded to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando on June 12, 2016. He spent four hours taking care of the dead inside the club. Now, triggers like a Sharpie marker or a white sheet yank him out of the moment and back to the nightclub, where they used Sharpies to list the victims that night and white sheets to cover them.

Road & Track – Racing's Inherent Brain Injury Risk

The epicenter of the human body is three pounds of fatty tissue, a gelatinous lump floating in a spinal-fluid bath, capped by a bone dome a quarter-inch thick. Relatively speaking, we know little about the brain. But we do know it's fragile. Also that racing puts us at risk for traumatic brain injury. Even one concussion can cause long-term damage, and you don't have to hit your head or be knocked unconscious to be a victim.

The New York Times – At Airports, Making Travel Easier for Autistic Passengers

For Gearoid Mannion and his wife, Michelle, who live in County Clare, Ireland, air travel with their two autistic sons, Conor, 9, and Darragh, 7, is usually nothing short of a nightmare. The noise level, crowds and announcements at airports overwhelm the boys, and waiting in security and boarding lines is a concept that they don’t understand, Mr. Mannion said. “They get red in the face and start running around and crying and screaming or run toward the exit, because they want to go back home,” he said.

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