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Novel Vaccine That Produces Strong Immunity Against Cocaine High Poised To Move Quickly Into Human Trials

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Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Cornell University have produced a long-lasting anti-cocaine immunity in mice by giving them a unique vaccine that combines bits of the common cold virus with a particle that mimics cocaine. 

In their study, published January 4, 2011, in the advanced online edition ofMolecular Therapy, the researchers say this novel strategy might be the first to offer cocaine addicts a fairly simple way to break and reverse their habit. The approach could also be useful in treating other addictions, such as to nicotine, heroin, and methamphetamine. 

"Our very dramatic data shows that we can protect mice against the effects of cocaine, and we think this approach could be very promising in fighting addiction in humans," says the study's lead investigator, Ronald G. Crystal, chairman and professor of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. 

"The vaccine suppresses the stimulant effects of the drug," said Scripps Research Professor Kim Janda, a co-author of the paper and a pioneer in the field of developing vaccines against addictive drugs such as cocaine. "Unlike other types of treatment, a vaccine such as this one does not interfere with the neurological targets of the drug, but instead blocks cocaine from ever reaching the brain in the first place." 

In the new study, the vaccine effect lasted for at least 13 weeks, the longest time point evaluated in such an approach. Since the vaccine likely will not require multiple expensive infusions, the researchers hope that it can move quickly into human trials.

Clinically, this sort of therapy could be given to people in treatment programs to aid in their recovery. And, like most other types of treatment, it will only be useful for those who want the help. 

"This vaccine would be most applicable for addicts who are who are interested in getting off the drug," said Janda, the Eli R. Callaway Jr. Chair in Chemistry and a member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research. "In essence we view such vaccines as 'immuno-helpers' for treating substance abuse, and, in the case at hand, it might prove to be extremely useful for crack addicts whose relapse rate is exceedingly high." 

The Drug 

According to the latest statistics available from National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2008 5.3 million Americans age 12 and older had abused cocaine in any form and 1.1 million had abused crack at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. 

Cocaine, derived from the leaf of the Erythroxylaceae coca plant, is a highly potent drug that, as a salt, is either snorted or dissolved in water and injected directly into the bloodstream. The salt is also often neutralized to make an insoluble "free-base" form that is smoked. 

Once ingested in the bloodstream, the drug crosses the blood - brain barrier and accumulates rapidly in the brain. "The brain levels rise very rapidly once cocaine is taken into the system," said Janda. 

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Family files claim over teen's death after a rave

By Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times

January 3, 2011

The parents of 15-year-old Sasha Rodriguez, who died of an ecstasy overdose after attending a rave, have filed a claim against the management of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The parents are seeking $5 million in damages from the Coliseum Commission.

The claim, filed Dec. 23 with both the city and county of Los Angeles, is a necessary step before suing in court. The claim says the commission, a joint state, city and county board, did not fulfill its "duties and was negligent in creating and/or allowing others to create a dangerous condition of public property" during the two-day Electric Daisy Carnival rave at the Coliseum in June.

Sasha Rodriguez, a high school student and drill team member from Atwater Village, was able to get into the event despite the 16-and-over age requirement advertised by Los Angeles-based Insomniac Events, the producer of the rave. Those under 16 needed a parent or guardian to attend, according to the event's website. Sasha attended with friends; her parents have said they did not know she was going to a rave.

She died days after falling into a coma after attending the rave.

The Coliseum "knew, or should have known, that the rave would attract, promote, encourage, facilitate and enable widespread illegal and illicit activity, including but not limited to the possession, sale and consumption of illicit drugs," the claim says.

The Coliseum Commission also "knew, or should have known, that the rave would attract minors under the age of majority … yet it failed to enforce such minimum age requirement," the claim said.

Patrick Lynch, general manager of the Coliseum, said in an e-mail Thursday that he was out of the office and unaware of the claim, and so was unable to comment.

In November, in a controversial vote, the commission lifted its moratorium on raves — all-night dance parties featuring electronic music. A month later, it voted to require rave promoters to come before the panel at least 60 days in advance of an event for approval.

"We're going to limit whatever abuses take place," Commissioner David Israel said at the December meeting.

The Electric Daisy Carnival rave, which drew 185,000 people over two days, resulted in 120 people being taken to local hospitals, mostly for drug intoxication. Coliseum managers said there were no major problems at subsequent raves Aug. 21 and Oct. 23, which attracted 6,000 and 22,000 people, respectively. A New Year's Eve rave, Together as One, at the Sports Arena resulted in 25 arrests and 17 hospitalizations.

All three raves that took place after the June event had been scheduled before the rave moratorium enacted after the teen's death.

The L.A. Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena relies on raves for 28% of its revenue, according to a consultant report filed to the commission in July.

Commissioners said they were not driven by the bottom line when they voted to continue holding raves at the public facility. Some expressed worry that raves would be forced into unregulated "back alleys" if no longer allowed at the Coliseum or Sports Arena.

Israel said commissioners weighed both public safety and free-speech concerns, and said recommendations from the county Department of Public Health would be enacted to ensure safety and reduce risk at future events. Among the recommendations: strictly enforcing an 18-and-over age limit, adding security and drug searches, and hiring medical staff to work at the raves.

Another publicly owned facility took a different approach. The state-run Cow Palace in Daly City, south of San Francisco, banned raves in November, citing numerous drug and alcohol overdoses at recent events, including two deaths following a rave in May.

On Dec. 22, Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill to ban raves at publicly owned venues. Ma cited a study that found many teenagers attending raves use "club drugs" such as ecstasy, GHB, methamphetamine and LSD.

Rave promoters denounced the legislation as heavy-handed.

Steven Archer, a lawyer representing Sasha's parents, Grace Rodriguez and Leonard Contreras, said the claim does not seek any injunction that would ask a judge to stop raves at the facility.

"However, one of the collateral results of a successful lawsuit may be a change in policy of the Coliseum Commission to further control or limit raves," Archer said. "It's not our goal to limit them … but when the Coliseum Commission is called upon to pay monetary damages to this family for what happened to their daughter, maybe by hitting them in the pocketbook, the Coliseum Commission will have its eyes opened."

ron.lin@latimes.com

Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

 

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Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Shaun King charged with DUI in Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Former Tampa Bay Buccaneersquarterback Shaun King has been charged with driving under the influence in Florida.

Hillsborough County jail records show that King refused to take a blood alcohol test when sheriff's deputies stopped him at 2:12 a.m. Sunday.

He posted $500 bond and was released.

King played seven NFL seasons with the Buccaneers andArizona Cardinals. He recently was hired as a football analyst for Bright House Sports Network.

The 33-year-old lives in St. Petersburg. A message left at a phone number listed for his address was not immediately returned.

A spokesman for Bright House Networks would not comment on the arrest but said King was a part-time employee, not full time.

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Texas Considers Ignition Interlock Laws

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Several DWI laws are being proposed in this year's Texas Legislative Session.

 

One law would require first-time offenders to use an Ignition Interlock System.

 

It comes with a breathalyzer that won't allow the driver start up if he or she blows over the limit.

 

Texas Mothers Against Drunk Drivers are fighting for ignition interlock laws.

 

They're hoping the law will be used as punishment under the deffered ajudication bill, which gives first time DWI offenders probation instead of jail time.

 

MADD is also proposing sobriety checkpoints in Texas. The road blocks are already being used in 41 other states to check for drunk drivers.

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Children of Alcoholics Likely to become Obese!

Washington (SmartAboutHealth) – According to a new study, children of alcoholics are more likely to face and suffer from obesity than kids who are not born into a family with a history of alcoholism.

The study was carried out by researchers from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and focused on seeing if there was a link between having a family history of alcohol abuse or alcoholism, and obesity.

Researchers analyzed data that came from two different surveys that involves alcoholism.

The surveys were conducted through the 1990s as well as through the 2000s and involved over 75,000 people in total.

Researchers found that those who had a family history of alcoholism were far more likely to be obese than those who did not.

The belief is that this is due to the fact that the addiction may be passed odwn in the family.

The only difference is that the new entrants into these families are becoming addicted to junk food more than they are addicted to alcohol.

As the years went by in the study, they found that the more recent adults with a family history of alcoholism were more likely to suffer from obesity than those from the early 1990s.

The family history of alcoholism and obesity are more directly linked now because the food that is available today has more calories and more fat than the food some years ago.

Still, the addictive nature between these foods and the brain is similar to the addiction that is seen from alcohol.

The study has been published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

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DWI Texas Law Could Change behind Legislation in 2011!

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Bill proposes deferred adjudication in Texas DWI cases

 

 


 

 

Associated Press

 

AUSTIN, Texas – A new legislative proposal would allow first-time drunken drivers in Texas to be acquitted if they complete supervision and treatment, a move supporters say would reduce court backlogs and shift the judicial system's focus to punishing repeat DWI offenders.

 

Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, filed the proposal that would allow for deferred adjudication for first-time DWI offenders. Repetition of the offense would become grounds to increase future punishments.

 

The bill, which has supporters including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, prosecutors and defense attorneys, would be a change from the state's stance that all drunken drivers should face fines and jail. In the mid-1980s, deferred adjudication for such offenses was abolished in the state. Opponents at the time, including MADD, had argued that the form of probation was being accepted for repeat offenders.

 

"It's a needed change," said Richard Alpert, a Tarrant Countyprosecutor. "It's not like they are getting a free DWI, but a type of probation that would not technically be a conviction. If they don't reoffend, they can say they have not been convicted. But if they do reoffend, it can be used to enhance their punishment."

 

Supporters say that by routing cases out of courtrooms, the plan could ease court backlogs. Also, they say, it could improve efforts to track and punish repeat DWI offenders and remove the threat of jail that makes some first-timers refuse guilty pleas.

 

"Generally we do not support deferred adjudication bills, but we are going to support this one," Bill Lewis, public policy liaison for the Irving-based nonprofit group MADD, told the Austin American-Statesman. "Right now, we are hearing that many cases are not getting prosecuted for DWI but for a bogus charge. We hope the practice of reducing charges will be reduced if this bill does indeed pass."

 

Supporters of the bill also say it could give prosecutors a new negotiating tool.

 

Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said that the plan would still require supervision of the defendant and could enforce fines and allow a judge to impose jail time as a condition of probation.

 

"This would be a first step to putting some sanity in that system as long as people make sure to retain it only for the true first-time offender," Bradley said.

 

While the proposal has been in front of the Legislature before, Alpert said there is plenty of support this time.

 

"I think there is some momentum for this," Alpert said. "It would give people who want to take responsibility an incentive to plead guilty, as opposed to setting these cases for trial. We have too many cases on the docket."

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com

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Texas Drug Rehabs New Therapy (Equine Therapy)

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Texas Drug Rehabs are starting to offer a newer type of therapy. This new type of therapy is called Equine Therapy. It has been used as a alternative form to psychotherapy for many years. Some addiction treatment programs in Texas are implementing this newer thearpy into their programs.

This alternative approach is being used to help in the healing process. With many Texas Drug and Alcohol rehabs embracing this form of therapy, we are seeing many techniques and models of this type of therapy surface. Some programs use elements of different styles and models of care around the Equine Therapy. For more information regarding this type of therapy please visit this article below.

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The Effects Of Spirituality In Alcoholics Anonymous On Alcohol Dependence

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New research shows that attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings may increase spirituality and help decrease frequency and intensity of alcohol use

  • Alcoholics Anonymous is a widely known 12-step program that can help individuals control their dependence on alcohol, and spirituality is a large part
  • A new study shows that spirituality does increase over time, which can lead to better alcohol outcomes and an improved rate of recovery
  • These results indicate that spirituality is an important factor in the multi-faceted recovery from an alcohol-use disorder

Addictions, whether it is to drugs or alcohol, are a very difficult hurdle for individuals to overcome. But, there are ways to help people with their recovery through 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Many of these organizations, including AA, highlight spirituality as a very important factor, but the data surrounding its effectiveness have often been contested. 

However, new research shows that as attendance of AA meetings increase, so do the participants spiritual beliefs, especially in those individuals who had low spirituality at the beginning of the study. 

The results will be published in the March 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. 

John F. Kelly, lead author of the study, Associate Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Associate Director of the Center for Addiction Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that while spirituality is an important aspect of AA recovery, it is not the only way they can help individuals. 

"I've heard it said that AA is too spiritual, and I've also heard it said that AA is not spiritual enough for some people. Although this is not the only way that AA helps individuals recover, I think these findings support the notion that AA works in part by enhancing spiritual practices," Kelly said. 

The researchers assessed more than 1,500 adults throughout their recovery process, with data being gathered at three, six, nine, 12, and 15 months. The study utilized data on their attendance to AA meetings, their individual spirituality/religiosity practices and overall alcohol-use outcomes to determine if spirituality is indeed a mechanism of behavior change. 

The results indicated that there was a robust association between an increase in attendance to AA meetings with increased spirituality and a decrease in the frequency and intensity of alcohol use over time. One of the most interesting aspects of the research was that the same amount of recovery was seen in both agnostics and atheists, which indicates that while spirituality is an important mechanism of behavioral change for AA, it is not the only method used. 

"Many people will be surprised that alcoholic patients with little or no interest in spirituality attended AA and seemed to change even more than did those who had a pre-existing, strong sense of spirituality," said Keith Humphreys, a Career Research Scientist with the Veterans Health Administration and Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University. "AA is thus much more broad in its appeal than is commonly recognized." 

The researchers also noted that while spirituality is an important aspect of recovery, it is still not known how these beliefs work in complement or competition with other recovery methods, as there are multiple. 

"We have also found that AA participation leads to recovery by helping members change their social network and by enhancing individuals' recovery coping skills, motivation for continued abstinence, and by reducing depression and increasing psychological well-being," said Kelly. 

"Down the road it will be important to conduct more qualitative research as well as further quantitative replication of our findings in order to understand more about how exactly spiritual practices and beliefs influence coping and behavioral change in recovery from addiction

Source: 
John F. Kelly, Ph.D.
Center for Addiction Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital 
Keith Humphreys, Ph.D. 
Stanford University 
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

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Alcoholics May Stop at One Drink With Lundbeck Pill but what about the second drink,third and so on?

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Alcoholics may stop one drink with new pill. What about the second drink? In Europe a new medication is being used to help the fight of alcoholism. For many years the search for a pharmacological treatment answer in the fight against alcoholism has been sought. The drug, nalmefene from H. Lundbeck A/S in Valby, Denmark, blocks brain signals that make activities such as sex and drinking feel good. Should trials succeed, the medicine may win clearance in Europe as early as 2012, becoming the first new alcoholism treatment approved there in more than 15 years.
Most of the current medications are geared to fighting relapse once a person stops using alcohol. The focus of the new drug promises an attack of the problem from a different angle. The individual continues to drink while using this medication. Currently the method of abstinent is required for most people to become free from alcohol.
This new method of treatment raises many questions on it's effectiveness to stop alcoholism. The addiction treatment communities are champions for new tools, medications, tecniques and approaches to the treatment of alcoholism. However, much concern exist when you hear of the magic pill cure to fight alcoholism. It does not take long for the addiction professionals and the treatment and recovery community to get cynical about the idea of giving a pill and continued drinking.  
New ideas are always evaluated and researched in the addiction treatment industry. So while we watch this new approach to medication and alcoholics develop I hope more people will focus on the education of alcoholism.  


By Scott Kelley LCDC
More information on article found at business week.
via www.businessweek.com


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Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission are removing Alcohol with Caffeine from stores!

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The national push to get rid of caffeine out of some alcohol drinks is making big news across the Untied States. The Food and Drug Administration sent out letters to four companies, warning that, as used in their products, caffeine is an "unsafe food additive" under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

“Consumers might mistakenly assume that these beverages are safe because they are widely sold,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  “In fact, there is good reason to believe that these caffeinated alcohol drinks pose significant risks to consumer health and safety.  Consumers – particularly young, inexperienced drinkers – may not realize how much alcohol they have consumed because caffeine can mask the sense of intoxication.”
The FTC letters strongly urge the companies to review the way they are marketing their caffeinated alcohol drinks and to “take swift and appropriate steps to protect consumers.”  The FTC has instructed the companies to notify the agency within 15 days of the actions they have taken.

All four companies responded to the request and either have removed or in the process of removing products from the shelves. The Alcohol beverages are Joose, Four Loko,Core High Gravity, Core Spiked, and El Jefe carbonated malt beverages and  Moonshot. 

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