Author Archive for Pharmboy

Marijuana is a lot more than just THC – a pharmacologist looks at the untapped healing compounds

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Marijuana is a lot more than just THC – a pharmacologist looks at the untapped healing compounds

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Assorted cannabis bud strains. Roxana Gonzalez/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of James David Adams, University of Southern California

Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states as of November 2018. Yet the federal government still insists marijuana has no legal use and is easy to abuse. In the meantime, medical marijuana dispensaries have an increasing array of products available for pain, anxiety, sex and more.

The glass counters and their jars of products in the dispensary resemble an 18th century pharmacy. Many strains for sale have evocative and magical names like Blue Dream, Bubba Kush and Chocolope. But what does it all mean? Are there really differences in the medical qualities of the various strains? Or, are the different strains with the fanciful names all just advertising gimmicks?

Rafael, a Chumash who shared Californian Native American cultural knowledge with anthropologists in the 1800s. Leon de Cessac

I am a professor in the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. I have lived in California a long time and remember the Haight-Ashbury Summer of Love. While in graduate school, I worked with professor Alexander Shulgin, the father of designer drugs, who taught me the chemistry of medicinal plants. Afterwards, while a professor at USC, I learned Chumash healing from a Native American Chumash healer for 14 years from 1998 until 2012. She taught me how to make medicines from Californian plants, but not marijuana, which is not native to the U.S. Currently, I am teaching a course in medical marijuana to pharmacy students.

If there is one thing about marijuana that is certain: In small doses it can boost libido in men and women, leading to more sex. But can marijuana really be used for medical conditions?

What are cannabinoids?

New research is revealing that marijuana is more than just a source of cannabinoids, chemicals that may bind to cannabinoid receptors in our…
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Can a genetic test predict if you will develop Type 2 diabetes?

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Can a genetic test predict if you will develop Type 2 diabetes?

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A woman uses a lancet on her finger to check her blood sugar level with a glucose meter. Behopeful/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Mylynda Massart, University of Pittsburgh

When I got home after work I was surprised to find my husband and three children sitting by the television and watching the news. They had just learned that the direct to consumer genetic testing company 23andMe was now offering a report that assessed the customers’ risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. “Is it true?” my husband asked. “Can they now study my genes and predict whether I will get Type 2 diabetes?”

As a primary care physician who is exploring how to integrate genetic testing into traditional family medicine – a combination we now describe as precision medicine – I was excited to explain the science behind this new report and the barriers to using 23andMe’s new diabetes risk score in current clinical care.

As a family physician, I am eager to identify my patients most at risk for developing diabetes, as this is a very costly and debilitating disease with numerous health consequences such as kidney failure, heart disease, painful neuropathy and limb amputation. In the U.S. alone more than 30 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes and of these 7.2 million are undiagnosed and unaware of their condition. Another 84.1 million adults older than 18 are at high risk and considered prediabetic. So how did 23andMe calculate this risk score, and would it help the millions who were unaware of their state of health?

Calculating risk of Type 2 diabetes

The cost of diabetes. American Diabetes Association, CC BY-SA

As my family sat down to a carbohydrate-rich dinner of pasta, my famous pesto pizza rolls and a salad, I explained how this direct-to-consumer testing service was calculating the risk of this complex disease that is caused by the interaction of diet, environment and thousands…
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FDA approves promising new drug, called esketamine, for treatment-resistant depression

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FDA approves promising new drug, called esketamine, for treatment-resistant depression

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One in 3 people with severe depression do not respond to treatment. TZIDO SUN/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Lee Hoffer, Case Western Reserve University

Treatment-resistant depression affects 1 in 3 of the estimated 16.2 million adults in the U.S. who have suffered at least one major depressive episode. For them, two or more therapies have failed and the risk of suicide is much greater. It’s a grim prognosis.

The chemical structure of esketamine.

The chemical structure of ketamine.

There are few therapies for depression that resists treatment, which is why the FDA granted this new drug application Fast Track and Breakthrough Therapy status. On March 5, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment called esketamine.

On Feb. 12, 2019, I participated in the FDA review of this drug. Practically speaking, esketamine is essentially the same as ketamine, which is a pain killer with hallucinogenic effects and used illegally. As a member of the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee of the FDA, I voted with the majority of that panel 14-2, to approve esketamine only for people who have treatment-resistant depression.

For more than 20 years, I have researched illegal drug use and addiction. As a medical anthropologist, my work is oriented to understanding the perspectives and behaviors of people actively using illegal drugs. My research often involves fieldwork, which means participating in the lives of people as they go about their everyday routines. This has given me a personalized and practical outlook on illegal drug use. Many of the people I currently interview are heroin injectors who first started opioid use by misusing prescription drugs.

Not a street drug

But many drugs, especially those for the treatment of mental illness, have powerful effects on the central nervous system. How the drug…
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A cure for HIV? Feasible but not yet realized

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A cure for HIV? Feasible but not yet realized

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The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), shown here as tiny purple spheres, causes the disease known as AIDS. Mark Ellisman and Tom Deerinck, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research

Courtesy of Allison Webel, Case Western Reserve University

This week a team of scientists and physicians from the U.K. published news of a second HIV positive man, in London, who is in long-term (18-month) HIV remission after undergoing treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma. The unexpected success has launched a new round of discussion about a potential cure for HIV.

Since 2008, scientists have been trying to replicate the treatment that cured the “Berlin patient” of HIV. At the time, many in the field of HIV research were excited to learn that this man, who tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus in Berlin and had recently undergone treatment for acute myeloid leukemia, appeared to have been cured of his HIV. Until now, success in replicating that cure has been limited.

What is HIV?

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. Since the virus was first discovered in the 1980s, more than 75 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV. Today, almost 37 million people live with HIV. Of these, about 1.1 million live in the U.S.

Infection with HIV almost always led to AIDS, which in turn was almost always fatal. The field was revolutionized in 1996 with the introduction of HIV anti-retroviral therapy medications. These drugs halt HIV from replicating and allow an infected person to regain a functioning immune system. These medications are so effective that today a person living with HIV has almost the same life expectancy of someone without HIV infection. However, these medications must be taken every day, have multiple distressing side effects, and can cost thousands of dollars each month.

Yet even with this life-extending treatment, a functional HIV cure, defined as when someone with HIV no longer tests positive for the virus and does not need to take these medications, has remained elusive.…
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Cancer: new DNA sequencing technique analyses tumours cell by cell to fight disease

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Cancer: new DNA sequencing technique analyses tumours cell by cell to fight disease

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Illustration of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, showing lymphoblasts in blood. Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock

Courtesy of Alba Rodriguez-Meira, University of Oxford and Adam Mead, University of Oxford

A new DNA sequencing technique lets scientists track genetic errors in individual cancer cells. For the first time, they can reconstruct a tumour’s life history and understand how an error in a cell’s DNA led to the uncontrollable growth of a tumour. This new technology will help doctors understand how a particular cancer has evolved and personalise treatments for each patient, to make them more effective and successful.

We are made of billions of cells that work together to build every part of our body. Occasionally, one of these cells acquires an error in its genetic code and this error, or mutation, can sometimes make this abnormal single cell divide and grow faster than the healthy ones, causing a tumour to develop. During this process, cells can continue to evolve and accumulate many more mutations that make it more dangerous than the original one.

Previously, when researchers studied cancer, they used to take a piece of the tumour and analyse it as a whole. Without understanding the life history of each tumour, science could only give us an incomplete picture of the cancer, where the different cells are mixed and averaged, to get an idea of how dangerous the cancer was. But it didn’t tell us anything about how the tumour had evolved and what type of cells it was made of, making it hard for doctors to select the right treatment for each patient.

This is the reason many cancer treatments don’t work, and when they do, cancer sometimes regrows within a few months or years, coming back a lot more aggressive than the previous one and much more difficult to treat.

Seeing the whole picture

As the entire tumour couldn’t be beaten as a whole, five years ago, researchers started using a different strategy: divide and conquer. They began dividing the tumours into single cells…
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CBD: Rising star or popular fad?

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CBD: Rising star or popular fad?

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CBD, made from hemp, is being hyped as treatment for pain, nausea and a variety of maladies. But studies so far do not show benefit in humans. ElRoi/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Jenny Wilkerson, University of Florida and Lance McMahon, University of Florida

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has become a household name. On many social media sites, people suggest “but have you tried CBD oil?” on posts pertaining to any health-related issue.

CBD, a minor constituent of marijuana, is widely touted as nature’s miracle by CBD enthusiasts. It does not get people high, unlike marijuana’s main constituent, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, given the recent surge in its popularity, you’d think the molecule is magic.

We are behavioral pharmacology scientists, and we study how drugs act on the body. Specifically, we have an interest in developing new drugs for the treatment of pain that possess lessened drug abuse potential, and therapeutic interventions for drug abuse. Although there is scientific interest in the use of CBD for both pain and drug addiction, as well as many other medical indications, there is a lot that we still do not know about CBD.

CBD and THC: How do they work?

Drugs affect the body by binding and acting at various protein molecules, usually on the surface of the cells in the body, called receptors. These receptors then send signals that can impact bodily functions.

Marijuana has an effect on the body because many animals have receptors termed “cannabinoid receptors.” There are two known cannabinoid receptors that are responsible for the effects of marijuana. Only one of them, the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R), is responsible for the high from marijuana. These cannabinoid receptors are predominately found on nerve cells located throughout the body, including the brain.

CBD doesn’t get people high because CBD does not bind or act on CB1R. CBD also does not bind or act on the other cannabinoid receptor, the cannabinoid type 2 receptor (CB2R), predominately found on immune cells. In contrast, THC binds and activates…
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Opening Pandora’s Box: Gene editing and its consequences

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Opening Pandora's Box: Gene editing and its consequences

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Bacteriophage viruses infecting bacterial cells , Bacterial viruses. from www.shutterstock.com

Courtesy of John Bergeron, McGill University

Today, the scientific community is aghast at the prospect of gene editing to create “designer” humans. Gene editing may be of greater consequence than climate change, or even the consequences of unleashing the energy of the atom.

CRISPR is an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. This is the immune system that bacteria developed to protect themselves from infections by bacteriophages — the most abundant life form on the planet.

Smaller than any known life form

Bacteriophages were discovered in Paris by Felix d’Hérelle at the Pasteur Institute in 1917. He was studying a subset of patients spontaneously recovering from dysentery. D’Hérelle proposed that an antimicrobe smaller than any known life form had killed the bacteria in infected patients. He demonstrated conclusively the existence of this new life form, and named them bacteriophages: viruses that attack bacteria.

The bacteriophage has been studied intensely: its beauty was revealed with the electron microscope and its genome was the first life form sequenced.

Responding to a bacteriophage attack

In 2007, Rodolphe Barrangou and Philippe Horvath of the food production company Danisco collaborated with Sylvain Moineau of Laval University to solve a long-standing problem in yogurt production. They asked: Why were bacteria that were essential for the production of yogurt and cheese susceptible to bacteriophage attack, and how could this be prevented?

Barrangou, Horvath and Moineau made the astonishing discovery that bacteria actually had an immune system.

CRISPR: Acquired Bacterial Immune Systems.

After an initial bacteriophage attack, a small number of surviving bacteria would recognize the DNA of the newly attacking bacteriophages. The surviving bacteria would then mount an immune response leading to the death of the bacteriophages. The bacteria that survived a phage attack would embed a fragment of bacteriophage DNA within their bacterial genome to serve as a “memory” of the…
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China’s win-at-all-costs approach suggests it will follow its own dangerous path in biomedicine

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China's win-at-all-costs approach suggests it will follow its own dangerous path in biomedicine

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Megacity Shenzhen, as seen from Hong Kong, is a center for Chinese finance and tech. AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Courtesy of Hallam Stevens, Nanyang Technological University

The world was shocked by Chinese scientist He Jiankui’s recent claim that he’d brought to term twin babies whose genes – inheritable by their own potential descendants – he had modified as embryos. The genetic edit, He said, was meant to make the girls resistant to HIV infection.

Scientists within China and across the world responded to the announcement with a mixture of incredulity and alarm.

But as a historian of biology who has closely followed biomedicine in China over the past few years, I was less surprised by these developments. Set within the context of China’s approach to biomedical ethics and its rampant global ambitions, He’s actions fit into a wider pattern of dangerous excess.

He Jiankui’s announcement included plenty of careful image cultivation. AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

Since He did not publish any of his results in scientific journals there’s no way of knowing yet whether his claims are true, false or exaggerated in some way. But what seems the most surprising outside of China is that He believed – gambled, perhaps – that his announcement would be met with congratulations and acclaim. Didn’t he know that he’d be condemned? Why take such a risk?

Different history frames what’s acceptable

China’s relationship to biomedical ethics is very different from that of the West.

In the West, after-the-fact condemnation of Nazi medical experiments, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and other patient abuses led to the rise of Institutional Review Boards that carefully regulate medical experimentation on humans. China has its own history of dubious medical research, including by Japanese scientists during World War II, but it didn’t result in the development of similar kinds of home-grown bioethics institutions.…
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Those designer babies everyone is freaking out about – it’s not likely to happen

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Those designer babies everyone is freaking out about – it's not likely to happen

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Babies to order. Andrew crotty/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy A Cecile JW Janssens, Emory University

When Adam Nash was still an embryo, living in a dish in the lab, scientists tested his DNA to make sure it was free of Fanconi anemia, the rare inherited blood disease from which his sister Molly suffered. They also checked his DNA for a marker that would reveal whether he shared the same tissue type. Molly needed a donor match for stem cell therapy, and her parents were determined to find one. Adam was conceived so the stem cells in his umbilical cord could be the lifesaving treatment for his sister.

Adam Nash is considered to be the first designer baby, born in 2000 using in vitro fertilizaton with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, a technique used to choose desired characteristics. The media covered the story with empathy for the parents’ motives but not without reminding the reader that “eye color, athletic ability, beauty, intelligence, height, stopping a propensity towards obesity, guaranteeing freedom from certain mental and physical illnesses, all of these could in the future be available to parents deciding to have a designer baby.

The designer babies have thus been called the “future-we-should-not-want” for each new reproductive technology or intervention. But the babies never came and are nowhere close. I am not surprised.

I study the prediction of complex diseases and human traits that result from interactions between multiple genes and lifestyle factors. This research shows that geneticists cannot read the genetic code and know who will be above average in intelligence and athleticism. Such traits and diseases that result from multiple genes and lifestyle factors cannot be predicted using just DNA, and cannot be designed. Not now. And very unlikely ever.

Designer babies are next

The inevitable rise of designer babies was proclaimed in 1978 after the birth of Louise Brown, the first IVF baby, as the next step toward “a brave world where parents can select their child’s gender and traits.” The…
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World’s first gene-edited babies? Premature, dangerous and irresponsible

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World's first gene-edited babies? Premature, dangerous and irresponsible

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Vchal/Shutterstock

By Joyce Harper, UCL

A scientist in China claims to have produced the world’s first genome-edited babies by altering their DNA to increase their resistance to HIV. Aside from the lack of verifiable evidence for this non peer-reviewed claim, this research is premature, dangerous and irresponsible.

He Jiankui from the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen (which has reportedly since suspended him) said he edited the DNA of seven embryos being used for fertility treatment, so far resulting in the birth of one set of twin girls. He says he used the tool known as CRISPR to delete the embryos’ CCR5 gene (C-C motif chemokine receptor 5), mutations in which are linked to resistance to HIV infection.

If true, this is a significant advance in genetic science, but there are some very serious problems with this news. First, the research has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal so we cannot be sure of the exact details of what has been done. Instead, the scientist made the claims to the Associated Press news organisation, and the journalists involved haven’t been able to independently verify them. The parents of the allegedly gene-edited babies declined to be interviewed or identified.

Second, we know there can be significant problems with using existing gene-editing technology on human embryos. The main two issues are mosaicism, where the edited DNA does not appear in every cell of the embryo, and off-target effects, where other parts of the genome may also have been edited with unknown consequences.

Before genome editing becomes a clinical treatment, it is essential that scientists resolve both of these issues and eliminate other potential adverse effects on the embryo. We need comprehensive studies to show that genome editing is not going to cause harm to the future people it helps create. Any children born as a result of genome editing will also need long-term follow up. It would be vital to see the preliminary work that he has done to confirm that his technique…
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Zero Hedge

China Is Spending Billions To Dethrone The U.S. In Race For The World's Fastest Supercomputer

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

China is currently in the midst of a multi-billion dollar investment cycle to upgrade its supercomputer infrastructure in a bid to pass the United States for fastest supercomputer in the world after the United States regained the title for fastest supercomputer in 2018, ending a five-year reign of Chinese dominance.

As SCMP notes, China had been first on the global Top 500 list of supercomputers sinc...



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Phil's Favorites

Jamaica leads in Richard Branson-backed plan for a Caribbean climate revolution

 

Jamaica leads in Richard Branson-backed plan for a Caribbean climate revolution

Turbines in Manchester Parish, Jamaica, the English-speaking Caribbean’s first wind farm. Debbie Ann Powell

Courtesy of Masa? Ashtine, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus and Tom Rogers, Coventry University

After hurricanes Irma and Maria ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Germany Breakout Bullish For Stocks In The States!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

An important message to stocks in the states will come from Germany in the next few weeks!

This chart looks at the DAX index from Germany over the past 10-years. For the majority of the past 6-years, the DAX has remained inside of rising channel (1). The 2018 decline saw the DAX hit support where a 1-year counter-trend rally started.

Over the past year, the DAX has created a new falling channel (2). It is now testing the top of this falling channel and the lows of last February at (3).

For most of last year, the DAX created a bearish divergence with the...



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ValueWalk

Pension Flows Add 5 More Years To Credit Boom/Bust Cycle

By Michelle Jones. Originally published at ValueWalk.

The pension crisis has been capturing headlines for years, but there’s another layer to the pension issue that’s starting to draw attention to itself. Public pension funds have shown an increasing appetite for credit and related holdings, the latest round of pension flows demonstrates that this trend continues One analyst believes pensions are largely to blame for the extremes of the boom/ bust cycles we’ve seen over the last year or so. He now suggests that the equity bull market could last another five years—thanks to the extremes driven by pension funds.

...

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Insider Scoop

Needham: Facebook No Longer A Buy Amid A 'Negative Network Effect'

Courtesy of Benzinga.

The bullish case for Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB)'s stock has come to an end, according to Needham.

The Analyst

Needham's Laura Martin downgraded Facebook from Buy to Hold with no price target.

The Thesis

Needham's multi-year bullish stance on Facebook's stock can no longer be justified for three key reasons, Martin said in a research report. These include:

  1. A negative potent...


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Biotech

Marijuana is a lot more than just THC - a pharmacologist looks at the untapped healing compounds

Reminder: We are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

Marijuana is a lot more than just THC - a pharmacologist looks at the untapped healing compounds

Assorted cannabis bud strains. Roxana Gonzalez/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of James David Adams, University of Southern California

Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states as of November 2018. Yet the federal government still insists marijuana has no legal u...



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Chart School

Wyckoff Price Thrust Measure

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Richard Wyckoff said in his last days as an educator,'follow the waves'. And an important measure of those waves is the 'thrust'. The thrust of price into new ground, considering price and volume support or lack of it. The price wave thrust is clear visual presentation of the composite man demand or supply characteristics: strong, mild, weak or confused. 

readtheticker.com favored trend tool named RTTTrendStatus sister indicator RTTTrendThrust shows off Wykcoff measure of price thrust. RTTTrendThrust can be used to assist mechanical trading systems...

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Digital Currencies

Facebook's cryptocurrency: a financial expert breaks it down

 

Facebook's cryptocurrency: a financial expert breaks it down

Grejak/Shutterstock

Courtesy of Alistair Milne, Loughborough University

Facebook is reportedly preparing to launch its own version of Bitcoin, for use in its messaging applications, WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram. Could this “Facecoin” be the long-awaited breakthrough by a global technology giant into the lucrative market for retail financial services? Or will...



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Members' Corner

Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

Unfortunately, as the last decade has shown us, we can't count on bonds to pay us more than 3% and the average return from the stock market over the past 20 years has been erratic - to say the least - with 4 negative years (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008) and 14 positives, though mostly in the 10% range on the positives.  A string of losses like we had from 2000-02 could easily wipe out a decades worth of gains.

Still, the stock market has been better over the last 10 (7%) an...



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Mapping The Market

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

A good start from :

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

Excerpt:

The threat to America is this: we have abandoned our core philosophy. Our first principle of this nation as a meritocracy, a free-market economy, where competition drives economic decision-making. In its place, we have allowed a malignancy to fester, a virulent pus-filled bastardized form of economics so corrosive in nature, so dangerously pestilent, that it presents an extinction-level threat to America – both the actual nation and the “idea” of America.

This all-encompassing mutant corruption saps men’s souls, crushes opportunities, and destroys economic mobility. Its a Smash & Grab system of ill-gotten re...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

Market Shadows >>