Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have found clinical evidence that the drug gabapentin, currently on the market to treat neuropathic pain and epilepsy, helps people to quit smoking marijuana (cannabis). Unlike traditional addiction treatments, gabapentin targets stress systems in the brain that are activated by drug withdrawal. In a 12-week trial of 50 treatment-seeking cannabis users, those who took gabapentin used less cannabis, experienced fewer withdrawal symptoms such as sleeplessness, and scored higher on tests of attention, impulse-control, and other cognitive skills, compared to patients who received a placebo. If these results are confirmed by ongoing larger trials, gabapentin could become the first FDA-approved pharmaceutical treatment for cannabis dependence.
Mechanism May Aid Treatment For Alzheimer's And Neurological Disorders Associated With Gamma-Wave Alterations And Cognitive Impairments
Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have unraveled a process by which depletion of a specific protein in the brain contributes to the memory problems associated with Alzheimer's disease. These findings provide new insights into the disease's development and may lead to new therapies that could benefit the millions of people worldwide suffering from Alzheimer's and other devastating neurological disorders. The study, led by Gladstone Investigator Jorge J. Palop, PhD, revealed that low levels of a protein, called Nav1.1, disrupt the electrical activity between brain cells. Such activity is crucial for healthy brain function and memory. Indeed, the researchers found that restoring Nav1.1 levels in mice that were genetically modified to mimic key aspects of Alzheimer's disease (AD-mice) improved learning and memory functions and increased their lifespan.
Prescription drug use during pregnancy is prevalent, however, not enough is known about the adverse effects they may have on the developing fetus, concludes a new review published in The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist. The majority of women take prescriptions for pregnancy-related complaints and minor infections. However, a small proportion of women receive medication for treatment for chronic diseases such as asthma, depression or hypertension. The prevalence of congenital malformations is estimated at 2% of all births, of which approximately 1% are considered attributable to prescription drug use during pregnancy, states the review. Two common groups of drugs, anti-epileptics and antidepressants are explored in the review. Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are the most studied group of drugs in pregnancy, with an estimated 1 in 250 pregnancies exposed.
Ten years ago, a landmark clinical trial in Canada demonstrated the unequivocal effectiveness of brain surgeries for treating uncontrolled epilepsy, but since then the procedure has not been widely adopted - in fact, it is dramatically underutilized according to a new study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The study, published this month in the journal Neurology, showed that the number of Americans having the surgery has not changed in the decade since release of the effectiveness study, though surgical treatment is now uniformly encouraged by neurology and neurosurgery professional societies. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2 million Americans have epilepsy. Hundreds of thousands of these men, women and children suffer from uncontrolled seizures, but nationally only a few hundred are treated surgically each year with UCSF performing about 50 of the operations.
A study, published online in the journal Seizure, reveals that over 33% of patients believed to have intractable seizures were actually presenting stress-triggered symptoms. A team of Johns Hopkins physicians and psychologists found that more than one-third of patients admitted to The Johns Hopkins Hospital's inpatient epilepsy monitoring unit had symptoms caused by stress, rather than a true seizure disorder. According to the researchers, these patients, which included mothers in child-custody battles and returning war veterans, as well as over-extended professionals alike, have psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES). Signs of the condition include: Convulsions uncontrollable movements far-off stares The researchers note that signs of PNES appear to be stress-related behaviors that mimic and are misdiagnosed as epilepsy, but are not due to abnormal electrical discharges in the brain that characterize the neurological disorder.