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Can a Sea Snail Venom Save America from Prescription Drug Abuse?

Conus Magus - Ziconotide Prialt

As of 2014, pain relievers are the 2nd most commonly abused drugs in the United States with 4.3 million Americans using them for nonmedical reasons.[1] The number of those using pain relievers for nonmedical reasons has remained relatively unchanged from 2002 to 2014, however the number of deaths from prescription drugs, namely opioids, is up 3-fold since 2001.[2] At a time where opioids appear to be causing more problems than they solve, the medical profession is in desperate need of something new. Enter ziconotide. This unique medication is created from a toxin naturally made by the Cone snail (a ω-conotoxin peptide).[3] The molecule is a calcium channel blocker that works by infused into the cerebrospinal fluid to inhibit the release of glutamate, CGRP and substance P in the brain and spinal cord to provide pain relief [4],[5]; the best part…

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Pharmaceutical Companies Cashing in on the Opioid Epidemic

Opioid Epidemic

The opioid epidemic is just that...an epidemic - it's widespread and affects everyone.  Here are some interesting statistics.  The United States comprises only 4.6% of the world's population but we consume 80% of the world's opioids.  The United States consumes 99% of the world's Vicodin.  We spend $300,000,000,000 (that's billion) on pain-related medical costs each year, much of that is on medications.  According to the CDC, in 2013, nearly 2 million Americans abused prescription drugs. [1]  Each day, 7000 people are treated in Emergency Rooms across the United States for overdose or complications related to prescription drugs. Abuse Deterrent Formulations (ADF) are a good attempt to help curb the epidemic, but since insurance companies charge patients an arm and a leg for them over generics, addicts have a valid reason to ask for something that's cheaper and abusable.  More importantly, these ADFs are only one…

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What Causes Neuropathy?

Ainsworth Institute

Neuropathic pain affects roughly 2-3%[1] of the general population with an estimated cost of $40 billion per year in treatment related costs.[2] But what causes it? Since Neuropathy is an umbrella term used to describe any abnormalities of nerve function and structure, the potential causes of neuropathy are seemingly endless. Causes of Neuropathy: Genetics - Family history plays a big role. People who have family members with Neuropathy are more likely to experience it themselves. Toxins - Exposure to lead, glue, solvents, and heavy metals like mercury can cause nerve damage. This can happen through proximity to these agents in the workplace, or through willful abuse. Physical Injury - The most common cause of nerve injury. For example, spinal cord injury or disc herniation due to a fall or accident can lead to Neuropathic pain. Neuropathy can also be caused by holding…

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What is Transdifferentiation?

Stem Cell Therapy New York City NYC

Once a stem cell reaches the treatment site, it will differentiate or specialize into whatever specific cell is needed to repair specific tissue – like cartilage in an arthritic knee or connective tissue in a torn tendon[1]; this is called Transdifferentiation. A number of experiments have reported that certain adult stem cell types can differentiate into cell types seen in organs or tissues other than those expected from the cells' predicted lineage (i.e., brain stem cells that differentiate into blood cells or blood-forming cells that differentiate into cardiac muscle cells, and so forth). This enables the damaged or degenerative tissues to be repaired at the cellular level without surgery. Once the stem cells specialize, these new cells will continue to divide. Infusing damaged, painful tissue with new healthy cells can lead to regeneration – potentially reducing pain and improving function…

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