white medication pill on blue textile

DAILY DOSE: U.S. DEA played a role in America’s opioid crisis; A biosafety level-4 lab in the middle of farm country.

A stunning investigative piece by the Associated Press documents how the intransigence of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration essentially allowed the opioid crisis in America to spiral out of control. Per the AP,

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has allowed one of the nation’s largest wholesale drug distributors to keep shipping highly addictive painkillers for nearly four years after a judge recommended it be stripped of its license for its “cavalier disregard” of thousands of suspicious orders fueling the opioid crisis.

The DEA did not respond to repeated questions from The Associated Press about its handling of the case against Morris & Dickson Co. or the involvement of a high-profile consultant the company had hired to stave off punishment and who is now DEA Administrator Anne Milgram’s top deputy.

But the delay has raised concerns about how the revolving door between government and industry may be impacting the DEA’s mission to police drug companies blamed for tens of thousands of American overdose deaths.

“If the DEA had issued its order in a timely manner, one could then credibly believe that its second-in-command was not involved despite an obvious conflict of interest,” said Craig Holman, an ethics expert at the watchdog group Public Citizen in Washington. “The mere fact that its action has been delayed four years just raises red flags. It casts the entire process under grave suspicion.”

This article just goes to show how complex the opioid crisis actually is, involving many seemingly disparate factors. https://bit.ly/3Wuoh3c

In what can only be described as an example of obtuse decision making, a biosafety-level 4 laboratory, designed to handle the deadliest viruses known to man, is set to open in the middle of farm country in Kansas. It goes without saying that not everyone is enamored by the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF). According to Science,

NBAF has equipment and rooms designed to handle large animals such as cows and pigs, enabling scientists to study diseases that are off-limits at Plum Island. That includes Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Japanese encephalitis, and Nipah, a virus carried by fruit bats that can sicken pigs and people, killing between 40% and 75% of human patients. The routes of infection are mysterious. “We don’t really understand what happens out on the farm in Asia where pigs are serving as amplifiers and spreading [the virus] to humans,” says Lisa Hensley, an epidemiologist and virologist who heads the NBAF unit that will conduct research on zoonotic and emerging diseases.

Being able to safely work with pigs could help reveal how Nipah virus spreads and help researchers develop countermeasures. “I can see a Nipah vaccine … being a high interest item in coming years,” says Cross, who is consulting with NBAF as it readies to open.

But some Kansans worry a pathogen could escape. “I don’t understand why you’d put a facility like that in the middle of a highly productive cattle and crops area,” says Kendig, whose ranch sits roughly 200 kilometers west of Manhattan. He and others have pointed to problems at other supposedly secure labs. In 2007, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease was traced to an animal health lab at Pirbright in the United Kingdom, where an investigation pointed to a leaking drainpipe. The highly contagious disease causes blisters on the tongue, lips, and between the hooves of cattle and other livestock, leaving animals debilitated and staunching milk production. That release affected just a handful of farms, but in 2001 U.K. officials had to order the killing of as many as 10 million animals to halt a much larger outbreak not related to a lab.

A 2010 DHS evaluation that found the Kansas lab would have a 70% chance of triggering an outbreak of highly contagious foot and mouth disease over 50 years. https://bit.ly/3MUiGjx

A recent study made some very interesting findings regarding the effects of sounds that come from different directions. Per the Frontiers In Blog,

Sounds that we hear around us are defined physically by their frequency and amplitude. But for us, sounds have a meaning beyond those parameters: we may perceive them as pleasant or unpleasant, ominous or reassuring, and interesting and rich in information, or just noise.

One aspect that affects the emotional ‘valence’ of sounds – that is, whether we perceive them as positive, neutral, or negative – is where they come from. Most people rate looming sounds, which move towards us, as more unpleasant, potent, arousing, and intense than receding sounds, and especially if they come from behind rather than from the front. This bias might give a plausible evolutionary advantage: to our ancestors on the African savannah, a sound approaching from behind their vulnerable back might have signaled a predator stalking them.

Now, neuroscientists from Switzerland have shown another effect of direction on emotional valence: we respond more strongly to positive human sounds, like laughter or pleasant vocalizations, when these come from the left. The results are published in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

“Here we show that human vocalizations that elicit positive emotional experiences, yield strong activity in the brain’s auditory cortex when they come from the listener’s left side. This does not occur when positive vocalizations come from the front or right,” said first author Dr Sandra da Costa, a research staff scientist at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Does this mean that sounds that enter the from the right ear have the opposite effect? https://bit.ly/3MAcL1F

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

ON SALE! Charles Darwin Signature T-shirt – “I think.” Two words that changed science and the world, scribbled tantalizingly in Darwin’s Transmutation Notebooks.

Success! You're on the list.

AI outperformed standard risk model for predicting breast cancer
In a large study of thousands of mammograms, artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms …
A lung injury therapy derived from adult skin cells
Therapeutic nanocarriers engineered from adult skin cells can curb inflammation and tissue …

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: