Scientists May Have Found Formula For a Painless Existence

Physical pain is a near universal problem, whether its sudden pangs or chronic aches. Yet, researchers’ efforts to quash it completely have fallen short—possibly due to a moonlighting channel in nerve cells. But that may be about to change.

Source: Scientists may have found formula for a painless existence

Congenital analgesia was the affliction of a character in the Millennium series by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. Now I see that the wiki page has been updated with a reference to this study with the woman…

General pain reduction medicines that are not targeted all the time. If you are getting blasted with opioids, you are aiming your guns at the entire body. Opioids, while pretty good at pain reduction, have a lot of negative side effects, not the least of which is just boring old addiction.

Additionally, if you are busy dying of cancer, it probably isn’t all that dangerous, relatively speaking. If hospice care, if you could kill the pain without giving someone mind ruining levels of pain killers, you have done a very good thing. A lot of times to relieve the pain of someone who is dying, you basically have to dump them into a drug induced haze. That is all well and good until that person wants to speak to family. Being able to just turn off the pain without rendering someone incoherent would be a massive boon.

It could also be useful for people who are not dying, but are in agonizing pain. Again, some pain requires basically drugging someone stupid. Sure, there are dangers, but you can live with those. The risk of accidentally harming yourself and not knowing is a lot more appealing than being bed ridden in withering agony in some cases. Finally, if the control is analog, you might be able to dial back pain without turning it off. Imagine if you could dull the pain to level someone will still detect catastrophic damage (I put my hand on a hot stove), but it dulls out lower level chronic pain.

This is a really kick ass and revolutionary break through if it pans out. Near total control over pain using a drug that is almost certainly less harmful than opioids? Yes please! I really hope this turns out to be as good as it looks. If nothing else, it might go a long way to reducing the opiate addictions that our current pain management regimes have a nasty habit of producing.

Why the CIA Invented Cough Syrup

Much of the cough syrup on the shelves today owes a little something to the US Navy and the CIA. One of its main effective ingredients was developed by a project funded by both agencies. Learn why.

Source: Why the CIA Invented Cough Syrup

It is a dissociative hallucinogen, so you do not get the visuals like when on LSD or mushrooms which are at the other end of the hallucinogen spectrum.  It is almost an out of body type feeling, where you can see yourself acting goofy but can’t really stop it.  It also makes everything you’re viewing seem like an old timey movie where you can sense things moving frame by frame.  There’s a lot of nostalgic thoughts and memories that pop up… not sure if it s a common thing or not, but it happened to friends and I almost every time. Worst parts are nausea at the onset, shallow breath, & itchiness.

Scientists Have Hacked Yeast to Produce Narcotics

Yeast, that magical microorganism that provideth bread and beer, can now make narcotics, too. In a much-anticipated update, a team of scientists from Stanford University has engineered a strain of common brewer’s yeast to turn simple sugars into opioid drugs.

Source: Scientists Have Hacked Yeast to Produce Narcotics

I was glad to see the article addressed my concern – that illegal drug manufacture would benefit.  But the yield is claimed to be so low, it’s only a proof of concept at this point.  But now there’s reason to investigate if the yield can be improved.  The article did not cover what the resources needed were for this, to help determine if it is a better means of producing medications.  There is opioid overdose reversal medication – this article covers how it came to be, and the social implications

Run in the Morning for a Better Chance of Getting a Runner’s High

Recently, researchers studied how the brain responds to running and found that the ability to get “high” while logging miles might be hard-wired within us. Years ago, our ancestors’ survival likely depended on chasing down food. The desire to live was possibly their motivation to run and run fast, and the feel-good brain chemicals released when they did so may have helped them achieve the speed and distances required, says David A. Raichlen, Ph.D., an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona. The runner’s high may have served (and serves today) as a natural painkiller, masking tired legs and blistered feet, he says.

Even though you no longer have to chase down dinner, learning how happy brain reactions are sparked may help you achieve the runner’s high more often.

Source: How to Achieve a Runner’s High

I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced runner’s high, but I don’t do much distance.  My breathing distracts me from a lot of things, and given my pace – I’d make a really good zombie 😉

How Drug Companies Seek To Exploit Rare DNA Mutations

Steven Pete can put his hand on a hot stove or step on a piece of glass and not feel a thing, all because of a quirk in his genes. Only a few dozen people in the world share Pete’s congenital insensitivity to pain. Drug companies see riches in his rare mutation. They also have their eye on people like Timothy Dreyer, 25, who has bones so dense he could walk away from accidents that would leave others with broken limbs. About 100 people have sclerosteosis, Dreyer’s condition.

Source: These Superhumans Are Real and Their DNA Could Be Worth Billions

I don’t have a problem with the pharmaceutical companies trying to maximize profits. Profits are necessary to help the market determine how to allocate resources. When a company makes “obscene” profits that is a signal to everyone else that resources should be taken from those enterprises incurring loses and invested in the more profitable ventures.

One the people whose mutation is highlighted in the article reminds me of a character from the book “The Girl Who Played with Fire“, the second part of the Millenium series by Stieg Larsson.  I haven’t seen the American version of the movie for the first book, but enjoyed the books & Swedish movies.

What Did We Do Before Modern Anesthesia?

Other than ingesting alcohol and narcotics in sufficient doses to induce a state of analgesia, for most of its history, people in the West got through surgery with the aid of little more than forcible restraint and grit.

Drugs and alcohol were well known in the ancient world. Artifacts depicting opium poppies dating back to 4,000 BC have been found in the Levant, and evidence of Sumerian beer production dates to nearly 3,000 BC.; furthermore, henbane (Hyoscyamus niger), a member of the nightshade family, has been used to alleviate pain since the Babylonians began using it on toothaches around 2,250 BC.

Source: What Did People Use to Mask Surgical Pain Before Modern Anesthesia?

After reading that, you’re liable to be thankful for living now versus 50-100 (or more) years ago.  Similar to fermented food, a lot of people suffered or died getting us to this point.  It’s not perfect, but it’s better.

How Scientists Gained the Ability to Reverse Heroin Overdoses

Naloxone can reverse an otherwise fatal heroin overdose within minutes. Carrie Arnold meets the doctors who put this remarkable drug in the hands of the police, families and addicts—and saved thousands of lives.

…it as one of the few defences against the epidemic of overdoses that was killing people across America. Cheap and relatively pure heroin had recently become easier to obtain, but that wasn’t the only cause. A few years earlier, physicians had begun to change the way they prescribed opioid painkillers. These drugs can be highly addictive; one physician I talked to called them “heroin in pill form”. Yet between 1991 and 2013, prescriptions for opioid painkillers jumped from 76 million to 207 million per year, partly because physicians became more willing to prescribe the drugs to patients with chronic pain. Some of these patients found themselves hooked. And then, instead of sticking with these relatively expensive prescription narcotics, some began injecting heroin, for the better high and lower cost. America’s prescription opioid and heroin epidemics were merging into a single monster, one with tentacles that seemed to be everywhere, slowly strangling young and old.

Source: How Scientists Gained the Ability to Reverse Overdoses

It’s an involved, interesting and balanced article.  It addresses the concerns that reversing an overdose enables addicts, and how the drug works (receptor antagonist).

Did you know that heroin was originally a trademark?  Like hoover and xerox, trademark names that became so commonplace the branding lost significance.