Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Street Drug ‘Bath Salts’ Packs Double Punch

24.02.2012
Mimicking Effects of Two Powerful Narcotics

The street drug commonly referred to as “bath salts” is one of a growing list of synthetic and unevenly regulated narcotics that are found across the United States and on the Internet. New research on this potent drug paints an alarming picture, revealing that bath salts pack a powerful double punch, producing combined effects similar to both methamphetamine (METH) and cocaine.

“This combination of effects is particularly novel and unexpected,” said Louis J. De Felice of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine in Richmond. “Methamphetamine and cocaine operate in the brain in completely opposite ways. It would be atypical that both drugs would be taken together, but that’s the effect that occurs with bath salts.”

De Felice and his colleagues will present their research at the 56th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society (BPS), held Feb. 25-29 in San Diego, Calif.

The team’s research reveals that bath salts contain two structurally similar chemicals that produce quite dissimilar effects on the brain’s dopamine transport system. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. Though bath salts’ chemicals are structurally similar, both acting as potent psycho-stimulants, they use completely opposite mechanisms in the brain.

The first component is a dopamine-releasing agent known as mephedrone (MEPH), which – like METH – causes the brain to release more dopamine. The other chemical is methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), which – like cocaine – is a dopamine reuptake inhibitor. Both compounds increase dopamine availability to receptors, and both – through different mechanisms – produce feelings of euphoria.

The surprising finding is that rather than canceling each other out, as would be anticipated, the chemicals combine to enhance the effects of the other. “The two drugs have different kinetics, so rather than cancel each other they exacerbate the effect of either drug applied alone,” said De Felice.

The researchers began this particular project as part of a larger study on how amphetamine and METH affect the human dopamine transporter molecule. They made the novel finding that both chemicals create long-lasting effects that endure 30 minutes or more after the drugs are removed. This initial research continued with cathinone (CATH), which is a naturally occurring compound found in the khat shrub (Catha edulis). The drugs found in bath salts (MEPH and MDPV) are synthetic derivatives of CATH.

“The stimulant and blocker features of these drugs have been studied previously,” said De Felice, “but the evidence for long-lasting stimulation by MEPH and inhibition by MDPV is novel. It also is in some sense unexpected that two structurally similar agents could act oppositely at the dopamine transporter.”

The researchers do not yet know why these drugs have a persistent effect. They also don’t understand the fundamental reason why two structurally similar drugs act oppositely on the dopamine transporter.

“There also are many questions on the meaning of these findings for the dozens of other illicit synthetic drugs that have found their way to the street,” concludes De Felice. “We do suspect, however, that the combination that is found in bath salts could be behind its powerful physiological and neurological effect on users.”

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were more than 6,000 calls to poison control centers pertaining to bath salts in 2011, more than ten times the number in 2010. Reported symptoms of exposure include increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, and delusions.

The presentation, “‘Bath Salts’: A synthetic cathinone whose two major components act similar to methamphetamine and cocaine on the human dopamine transporter,” is at 9:15 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, in the San Diego Convention Center, Room 24ABC. ABSTRACT: http://tinyurl.com/7qppna8

This news release was prepared for the Biophysical Society (BPS) by the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

ABOUT THE 2012 ANNUAL MEETING
Each year, the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting brings together over 6,000 research scientists in the multidisciplinary fields representing biophysics. With more than 4,000 poster presentations, over 200 exhibits, and more than 20 symposia, the BPS Annual Meeting is the largest meeting of biophysicists in the world. Despite its size, the meeting retains its small-meeting flavor through its subgroup meetings, platform sessions, social activities, and committee programs.

The 56th Annual Meeting will be held at the San Diego Convention Center (111 W. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101), located three miles from the San Diego International Airport and less than one mile from the Amtrak station. The San Diego Trolley has two stops directly in front of the Center at Harbor Drive/First Avenue and Harbor Drive/Fifth Avenue.

QUICK LINKS
Meeting Home Page:
http://www.biophysics.org/2012meeting/Main/tabid/2386/Default.aspx
Housing and Travel Information: http://www.biophysics.org/2012meeting/AccommodationsTravel/HotelInformation/tabid/2479/Default.aspx
Program Abstracts and Itinerary Planner:
http://www.abstractsonline.com/plan/start.aspx?mkey=%7B5B4BAD87%2D5B6D%2D4994%2D84CE%2DB3B13E2AEAA3%7D
PRESS REGISTRATION
The Biophysical Society invites credentialed journalists, freelance reporters working on assignment, and public information officers to attend its Annual Meeting free of charge. For more information on registering as a member of the press, contact Ellen Weiss, Director of Public Affairs and Communications (eweiss@biophysics.org, 240-290-5606), or visit http://www.biophysics.org/2012meeting/Registration/Press/tabid/2477/Default.aspx
ABOUT BPS
The Biophysical Society (BPS), founded in 1956, is a professional scientific society established to encourage development and dissemination of knowledge in biophysics. The Society promotes growth in this expanding field through its annual meeting, monthly journal, and committee and outreach activities. Its 9000 members are located throughout the U.S. and the world, where they teach and conduct research in colleges, universities, laboratories, government agencies, and industry. For more information on the Society or the 2012 Annual Meeting, visit www.biophysics.org.

Ellen R. Weiss | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.biophysics.org

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>