from the world's big
What if you were immune to chronic pain? Vaccines could make it happen.
Scientists are developing vaccines for migraines and sciatica (back pain) – a win in the war against the overprescription of opioid drugs.
Lou Reese is a co-founder and a member of United Neuroscience's Board of Directors. He currently serves as C_O of United Neuroscience. Lou co-founded an investment and advisory firm with active investments in real estate, energy, hospitality, and life sciences. His investments focus on achieving global impact in critical important areas through innovative models and approaches. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and attended Columbia Business School.
LOU REESE: For me, these hard problems, to be able to approach them with the intention of alleviating suffering in a large patient population, and globally – the opportunity to create accessible, safe and efficacious products to go after and train, to unlock the body's immune system and actually solve these problems ourselves is amazing.
So by turning the body into the drug factory – because it's naturally producing these endobodies – I think that's a revolution in terms of the way we're going to approach chronic illness. And so I'm pretty excited about that part.
So these are all vaccine-based approaches. What I like about vaccines is that if we can turn your body on to activate against something that is an agent of pain, that your body itself is generating, then you can have a very easy way to take the product – it's a single shot once a year, potentially – so you have a great compliance rate with your patients, so it's easy on your patient. The cost is absolutely affordable and attainable. So the cost becomes something that is accessible. And you are, in effect, having a long duration of that treatment. That's going to give us the best chances to, in my opinion anyway, it's going to be one of the approaches that maximize our chances against the opioids and against the epidemic that's outstanding.
In addition to that we have some other things in our pipeline that are focused on the absorption of opioids or the replacement of opioids from a pleasure perspective. That's earlier and so not really worth incorporating into what we're doing here, but it would be in like soon. Those first two are big. So, for example, we have an IL-6 vaccine that I'm really excited about. And there are indications surrounding sciatica there that are really compelling. And I think that that's a huge need in terms of being able to remove that suffering and that pain in a long-acting, affordable, and accessible way.
So that's an example. Another one is, there's been a lot of noise around CGRP and monoclonal antibodies that have been improved around that for migraine. And we've got a vaccine for CGRP that we're extremely excited about, and if you think about the benefits of that it means that – you know, one of the big problems with getting people to take drugs is when they feel better they don't want to take them. But if your body is fighting that same target then you don't have that same compliance issue. And so you actually make it easier for the patients to take the products that they're supposed to take in a timely manner and then maintain the benefits of those products. So I think that's going to be a really interesting product that we're going to bring to market and I think that's a huge need. And there's a bunch of indications around that that are in the pipeline for the non-opioid pain alternative, so it's pretty exciting and it's cool.
You have unbelievable rates of overdose happening in this country that are unprecedented. And we have an opportunity to – some of that is driven by genuine need and pain. And so some of those alternatives which are not particularly effective, and there's been more studies coming out around this over and over and over again, that I think we can find more effective alternatives that are safer than opioids. And I think that's really one of the other focuses of United Neuroscience and something that I'm personally passionate about, because the Alzheimer's and the unintentional death statistics are what are driving down our longevity for the first time in three consecutive years since the Spanish flu. So we should, morally, and we are, practically, focused on addressing those biggest possible problems. So it's only consistent and it's only right that we're also dedicating some resource and time and energy to addressing both the Alzheimer's epidemic, the Parkinson's epidemic, and also the non-opioid pain epidemic.
When we look at this going forward, just to underline it, I guess, these are diseases that don't discriminate. I can't articulate that enough. These diseases don't discriminate. They don't care how much money you have. They don't care where you live. They don't care what color your skin is. And the bottom line is that our medicines can't discriminate either. And so our platform technology enables us to be accessible. It enables us to actually go where the need is. And for that I'm eternally optimistic. So that's pretty much it.
- Alzheimer's disease and unintentional deaths (like opioid overdoses and suicides) have been driving down U.S. longevity statistics for three consecutive years – a trend not seen since the Spanish flu pandemic.
- Our current approach to treating chronic pain is drug-based, but a vaccine-based approach can cut addiction out of the equation.
- You can vaccinate against pain! Scientists are developing vaccines for migraines and sciatica, which will lower the need for opioids, be cheaper, and make drug non-compliance a non-issue.
Join The Daily Show comedian Jordan Klepper and elite improviser Bob Kulhan live at 1 pm ET on Tuesday, July 14!
Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".