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Links 1 through 10 of 67 by Paul Raven tagged drugs

"One of the challenges of engineering bacteria to produce natural compounds is that the chemicals involved in the production process—the biosynthetic pathway, as it's called—may come from many different parts of a cell's metabolism. So, for example, the biosynthetic pathway may stitch together a piece of a sugar, part of a broken-down protein, and some lipid in order to make a useful drug compound. So, it's not simply enough to identify the enzymes that catalyze the steps in a biosynthetic pathway; you have to identify the raw materials, too, and ensure that your engineered bacteria makes all of those."

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"Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities... There were signs that some banks were rescued that way." Costa declined to identify countries or banks that may have received any drugs money, saying that would be inappropriate because his office is supposed to address the problem, not apportion blame. But he said the money is now a part of the official system and had been effectively laundered.

"That was the moment [last year] when the system was basically paralysed because of the unwillingness of banks to lend money to one another. The progressive liquidisation to the system and the progressive improvement by some banks of their share values [has meant that] the problem [of illegal money] has become much less serious than it was," he said.

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""The pressure to succeed academically is very real, and in a climate in which high-stakes public examinations have increased demand for private tuition, it is likely that all avenues for performance enhancement will be exhausted."

He said the failures and inconsistencies in the anti-drugs policy in sport could be mirrored when it comes to the use of smart drugs in the academic world.

"If the current situation in competitive sport is anything to go by, any attempt to prohibit the use of nootropics will probably be difficult or inordinately expensive to police effectively."

Cakic said that although smart drugs had been shown to improve brain power by only a modest amount, "it appears likely that more effective compounds will be developed in the future and that their off-label use will increase"."

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"Much as Hillman would like us to see the current war on drugs as a modern aberration, it’s still a very old story. Perhaps as old as the rise of monotheism: tellingly, there is no society where monotheism dominates in which psychoactive drug use is officially tolerated (and psychoactive is the key here) unless that society has since become much more thoroughly secular than our own. And that’s why drug use is not really a just a matter of civil liberties per se, of the “individual freedom” that libertarians maintain is the true legacy of Western civilization. The issue isn’t whether or not you have a personal right to alter your mood—after all we have caffeine, and we have alcohol and nicotine which are far more strongly addictive and dangerous to health than cannabis, but we don’t have cannabis. Why? Because cannabis can alter your perception of reality, not just your mood." Serious echoes of Terence McKenna here.

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"The upshot is fewer new medicines available to ailing patients and more financial woes for the beleaguered pharmaceutical industry. Last November, a new type of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, championed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, was abruptly withdrawn from Phase II trials after unexpectedly tanking against placebo. A stem-cell startup called Osiris Therapeutics got a drubbing on Wall Street in March, when it suspended trials of its pill for Crohn's disease, an intestinal ailment, citing an "unusually high" response to placebo. Two days later, Eli Lilly broke off testing of a much-touted new drug for schizophrenia when volunteers showed double the expected level of placebo response." Poor Big Pharma. Maybe they'll get all depressed about it.

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"For Grim, most of these mistakes have roots in an elementary error, the inability to accept that "altering one's consciousness is a fundamental human desire." The craving to be more relaxed or more alert, more outgoing or more reflective, happier or deeper or even just sillier and less bored -- in one form other another, this drive has always been and always will be with us, though many of us refuse to admit it. As a result, our political response to drug problems tends to be blinkered. "In reality, there's no such thing as drug policy," Grim writes. "As currently understood and implemented, drug policy attempts to isolate a phenomenon that can't be taken in isolation. Economic policy is drug policy. Healthcare policy is drug policy. Foreign policy, too, is drug policy. When approached in isolation, drug policy almost always backfires, because it doesn't take into account the powerful economic, social and cultural forces that also determine how and why Americans get high.""

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"Drugs instantiate the classic problem for evidence based social policy. It may well be that prohibition, and the inevitable distribution of drugs by criminals, gives worse results for all the outcomes we think are important, like harm to the user, harm to our communities through crime, and so on. But equally, it may well be that we will tolerate these worse outcomes, because we decide it is somehow more important that we publicly declare ourselves, as a culture, to be disapproving of drug use, and enshrine that principle in law. It’s okay to do that. You can have policies that go against your stated outcomes, for moral or political reasons: but that doesn’t mean you can hide the evidence, it simply means you must be clear that you don’t care about it."

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"Zak emphasises that the panel was not asked how to turn soldiers into better "killing machines", although "the whole purpose of maximising and sustaining battlefield capacity is to gain superiority over opponents", admits Floyd Bloom of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, who chaired the panel.

That's not to say someone won't try it, though. Zak's own work focuses on the role of the hormone oxytocin in trust and empathy. If drugs were developed to block oxytocin, the effect might be to reduce a soldier's ability to empathise with enemy combatants or civilians.

"There are lots of stories of soldiers who refuse to shoot other soldiers," says Zak. "If you could get rid of that empathy response you might create a soldier that's more prepared to engage in battle and risk their life."" ^_^

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"That government scientists conducted human experiments at Edgewood is not in question. "The program involved testing of nerve agents, nerve agent antidotes, psychochemicals, and irritants," according to a 1994 General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) report (PDF). At least 7,800 US servicemen served "as laboratory rats or guinea pigs" at Edgewood, alleges Erspamer's complaint, filed in January in a federal district court in California. The Department of Veterans Affairs has reported that military scientists tested hundreds of chemical and biological substances on them, including VX, tabun, soman, sarin, cyanide, LSD, PCP, and World War I-era blister agents like phosgene and mustard. The full scope of the tests, however, may never be known."

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"Five years later, the number of deaths from street drug overdoses dropped from around 400 to 290 annually, and the number of new HIV cases caused by using dirty needles to inject heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances plummeted from nearly 1,400 in 2000 to about 400 in 2006, according to a report released recently by the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C, libertarian think tank." Probably not the least biased of studies, but interesting results nonetheless.

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