Lawsuit Against DEA Over Medical Marijuana Research Dismissed

A federal court has tossed out a lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration that claimed the agency was stalling medical marijuana research.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed a lawsuit filed in June by the Scottsdale Research Institute that claimed the DEA was hampering federally approved marijuana studies by stalling cannabis cultivation applications. Led by Dr. Sue Sisley, the Scottsdale Research Institute had hoped that the lawsuit would force the U.S. Attorney General and the DEA to process its application to grow marijuana for clinical research.

The suit had argued that the DEA has created a monopoly around federally licensed marijuana research by requiring that researchers only use marijuana from the University of Mississippi for their studies. According to Sisley, federally licensed marijuana researchers are limited to low-grade cannabis without proper variety, which can compromise studies about medical marijuana and its effects, and how the plant is realistically grown and used. Sisley says that the poor quality of the official test marijuana affected the accuracy of her studies on the plant’s potential treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Marijuana Deals Near You

It’s been more than three years since the DEA  announced that it was opening the process to consider additional producers, but so far, none have been approved. In August, the agency announced it would begin to “facilitate and expand scientific and medical research for marijuana in the United States” by expediting the review of those applications, but no timeline was given, and no applications have been approved since then. Instead, the DEA announced a public comment period, which ended yesterday, October 28. Now, the DEA has ninety days to rule on the applications.

In dismissing the suit, the appeals court ruled that with its recent actions, the DEA has successfully executed its responsibilities by moving along the application process, making the case “moot.”

But if there are additional delays, one of the attorneys involved in the lawsuit told Marijuana Moment that it could return.

Toke of the Town

However the World Health Organization also noted that more research is needed into how microplastics may impact human health and the environment, the Associated Press reported.

THURSDAY, Aug. 22, 2019 — Levels of microplastics in drinking water don’t appear to be a health risk, according to the World Health Organization.

However the U.N. health agency also noted that more research is needed into how microplastics may impact human health and the environment, the Associated Press reported.

Microplastics — tiny particles smaller than about one-fifth of an inch — are “ubiquitous in the environment” and have been found in drinking water, including tap and bottled, the WHO said in the report released Wednesday.

“But just because we’re ingesting them doesn’t mean we have a risk to human health,’ said Bruce Gordon, WHO’s coordinator of water, sanitation and hygiene, the AP reported.

“The main conclusion is, I think, if you are a consumer drinking bottled water or tap water, you shouldn’t necessarily be concerned,” according to Gordon.

However, he noted that available data on microplastics is “weak” and said more research is needed. He also called for increased efforts to reduce plastic pollution, the AP reported.

Microplastics in water don’t appear to be a health threat at the moment, but “I wouldn’t want people to go away with the idea that microplastics are no longer important,” said Andrew Mayes, a senior lecturer in chemistry at Britain’s University of East Anglia who wasn’t involved in the WHO report.

Microplastics might be damaging the environment and stronger measures to reduce plastic waste are needed, he told the AP.

“We know that these types of materials cause stress to small organisms,” Mayes said. “They could be doing a lot of damage in unseen ways.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

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WebMD Health

Staring at seagulls can stop them stealing food, research shows

FILE PHOTO: Seagulls fly over the Palace Pier in Brighton, southern England March 7, 2009. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s seaside towns are at war with their seagulls, urging visitors not to feed the birds in an effort to stop them snatching titbits like potato chips from tourists’ hands.

Warning signs deck promenade railings from Scarborough to Broadstairs and beyond but now research from the University of Exeter has suggested an easy way for holidaymakers to deter the gulls – just stare at them.

The research showed that with a human staring at them, herring gulls took 21 seconds longer to approach a bag of chips then when left apparently unobserved.

“Gulls are often seen as aggressive and willing to take food from humans, so it was interesting to find that most wouldn’t even come near during our tests,” said lead author Madeleine Goumas, of the Center for Ecology and Conservation at Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

The researchers tried to test 74 gulls but most flew away or would not approach. Just 27 approached the food and 19 completed the “looking at” and “looking away” tests.

“Of those that did approach, most took longer when they were being watched,” Goumas said. “Some wouldn’t even touch the food at all, although others didn’t seem to notice that a human was staring at them.”

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Crowdsourcing to Fund Rare Disease Research


Nicole Henwood, MD, president and CEO, NF2 BioSolutions, West Chester, PA.

UpToDate: “Neurofibromatosis type 2.”

National Institutes of Health: “Rare Disease Clinical Research Network.”

Lancet: “Spotlight on Rare Diseases.”

National Institutes of Health: “FAQs About Rare Diseases.”

University of California, Davis: “What is Translational Research?”

National Organization for Rare Disorders: “Member Snapshot.”

National Institutes of Health: “What is Gene Therapy?”

NF2 BioSolutions: “FAQs.”

Amber Salzman PhD, president and CEO, Ohana Biosciences, Merion Station, PA.

Gary Brenner, MD, PhD, director, Pain Medicine Fellowship, Massachusetts General Hospital; associate professor, Harvard Medical School.

Cancer Gene Therapy: “Schwannoma gene therapy by adeno-associated virus delivery of the pore-forming protein Gasdermin-D.”

University of California, Davis: “What is Translational Research?”

Chris Coburn, chief innovation officer, Partners HealthCare, Cambridge, MA.

Peg Brivanlou, PhD, partner, King & Spalding, New York.

Kaiser Health News: “The High Cost of Hope: When The Parallel Interests of Pharma and Families Collide.”

The Scientist: “The Challenges of Rare-Disease Research.”

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SIGGRAPH 2019 to Debut Research Advances from 31 Countries

SIGGRAPH 2019 (July 28-August 1, Los Angeles) has announced its Technical Papers and Art Papers programs. Continuing the event’s 46-year history of delivery cutting-edge global research to the computer science community, this year’s combined programs highlight 157 projects from 31 different countries.

“Each year, the Technical Papers program sets the pace for what’s next in visual computing and the adjacent subfields of computer science. I am excited to be part of presenting the amazing work of researchers who drive the industry and look forward to how this work ignites memorable discussions,” said SIGGRAPH 2019 Technical Papers Chair Olga Sorkine-Hornung. “This is the kind of content you’ll reflect on, and refer to, throughout the year to come.”

Technical Papers programming is open to participants at the Full Conference Platinum and Full Conference registration levels only. Art Papers programming is open to the Experiences level and above. Learn more about SIGGRAPH 2019 and register here:

Along with new research from various academic labs, Facebook Reality Labs, NVIDIA, and Disney Research, highlights from the 2019 Technical Papers program include:

Semantic Photo Manipulation with a Generative Image Prior
Authors: David Bau, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab; Hendrik Strobelt, IBM Research and MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab; William Peebles, Jonas Wulff, Jun-Yan Zhu, and Antonio Torralba, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and, Bolei Zhou, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

We use GANs to make semantic edits on a user’s image. Our method maintains fidelity to the original image while allowing the user to manipulate the semantics of the image.

MeshCNN: A Network with an Edge
Authors: Rana Hanocka, Amir Hertz, Noa Fish, Raja Giryes, and Daniel Cohen-Or, Tel Aviv University; and, Shachar Fleishman, Amazon

MeshCNN is a deep neural network for triangular meshes, which applies convolution and pooling layers directly on the mesh edges. MeshCNN learns to exploit the irregular and unique mesh properties.

Text-Based Editing of Talking-Head Video
Authors: Ohad Fried, Michael Zollhöfer, and Maneesh Agrawala, a Stanford University; Ayush Tewari and Christian Theobalt, Max Planck Institute for Informatics; Adam Finkelstein and Kyle Genova, Princeton University; Eli Shechtman and Zeyu Jin, Adobe; and, Dan B. Goldman, Google

Text-based editing of talking-head video supports adding, removing, and modifying words in the transcript, and automatically produces video with lip synchronization that matches the modified script.

SurfaceBrush: From Virtual Reality Drawings to Manifold Surfaces
Authors: Enrique Rosales, University of British Columbia and Universidad Panamericana; Jafet Rodriguez, Universidad Panamericana; and, Alla Sheffer, University of British Columbia

VR tools enable users to depict 3D shapes using virtual brush strokes. SurfaceBrush converts such VR drawings into user-intended manifold 3D surfaces, providing a novel approach for modeling 3D shapes.

Puppet Master: Robotic Animation of Marionettes
Authors: Simon Zimmermann, James Bern, and Stelian Coros, ETH Zurich; and, Roi Poranne, ETH Zurich and University of Haifa

We present a computational framework for robotic animation of real-world string puppets, based on a predictive control model that accounts for the puppet dynamics the kinematics of the robot puppeteer.

The Art Papers program offers a platform to explore and interrogate research that focuses, specifically, on scientific and technological applications in art, design and humanities. Highlights for 2019 include:

CAVE: Making Collective Virtual Narrative
Authors: Kris Layng, Ken Perlin, and Sebastian Herscher, New York University / Courant and Parallux; Corrine Brenner, New York University; and, Thomas Meduri, New York University/ Courant and VRNOVO

CAVE is a shared narrative virtual reality experience. Thirty participants at a time each saw and heard the same narrative from their own unique location in the room, as they would when attending live theater. CAVE set out to disruptively change how audiences collectively experience immersive art and entertainment.

Learning to See: You Are What You See
Authors: Memo Akten and Rebecca Fiebrink, Goldsmiths, University of London; and, Mick Grierson, University of the Arts, London

“Learning to See” utilizes a novel method in “performing” visual, animated content — with an almost photographic visual style — using deep learning. It demonstrates both the collaborative potential of AI, as well as the inherent biases reflected and amplified in artificial neural networks, and perhaps even our own neural networks.

Animation Magazine

Sept. 9, 2018: More Bayou dispensaries; Veterans Request More Medical Marijuana Research; New York Seeks Public Input on Legalization

Louisiana cultivates its ninth medical marijuana pharmacy; the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs secretary gets a bipartisan request to research marijuana as an alternative to opioids; New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo rolls out a series of “listening sessions” on legalization. Louisiana Cultivates Medical Marijuana Pharmacies Louisiana’s medical marijuana program is finally taking shape. First […]

Maine Senator Backs Effort to Allow VA to Research Medical Marijuana for Pain Relief, PTSD

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine’s independent senator says he is getting behind an effort to research how medicinal cannabis could help veterans. Sen. Angus King is part of a bipartisan group of legislators that wants to authorize the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to advance research about the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis for […]

Research Links Long-Banned Insecticide DDT to Autism

THURSDAY, Aug. 16, 2018 — High levels of exposure to the insecticide DDT in women seems to more than double the risk of autism in their children, new research suggests.

The study looked for a link between the development of autism and two common environmental chemicals — DDT and PCBs. PCBs are chemicals that were used in many products, especially transformers and electrical equipment. In this study, they weren’t linked to autism.

Both DDT and PCBs have been banned in the United States and many other countries for more than three decades. Yet they’re still present in soil, groundwater and foods.

“They break down slowly over time. Even though they’re not produced any more in the Western world, almost everyone is exposed to some of them,” said study author Dr. Alan Brown. He’s a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

“In our Finnish population-based sample of more than 1 million pregnancies, virtually all of the women had exposure to DDT and PCBs,” Brown added.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social skills and nonverbal communication and also can cause repetitive behaviors. Signs include avoiding eye contact, speech delays, behaviors such as flapping or rocking, and intense reactions to stimulation such as sounds or lights.

The exact cause is unknown, but the disorder is believed to involve both genetic and environmental factors. Some studies have found links between autism and certain toxins.

Because DDT and PCBs are everywhere in the environment in both the United States and Finland, the researchers wanted to see if there was a connection between exposure to them and development of autism.

They were able to match nearly 800 cases of autism in children born from 1987 to 2005 to women in Finland who had provided blood samples. Their blood was tested for PCBs and DDE, a substance formed as DDT breaks down.

“DDE, but not PCBs were related to autism in the offspring, especially autism with intellectual disability,” Brown said.

The overall odds of autism were almost one-third higher in children born to moms with elevated DDE levels, the study found. For women with the highest DDE levels, the risk of autism with an intellectual disability was more than double.

But while the study found a link between autism and DDT exposure, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Brown said researchers don’t know how DDT exposure might lead to autism, though they suspect the chemical may alter the function of certain genes.

He said his group would like to team up with basic science researchers to find out how the chemicals might lead to the increased risk.

Thomas Frazier, chief science officer for the advocacy group Autism Speaks, also suspects that DDT may influence gene function, but exactly how is unclear.

“We don’t have enough data to know how that might happen,” said Frazier, who wasn’t involved with the research. “This is the first study looking at DDT and autism risk in a rigorous way. This is a lead that certain types of environmental processes may interact with biology to increase the risk of autism.”

And, he said, while the increased risk wasn’t “trivial,” this study didn’t find a “massive increase” either.

Frazier noted that it was reassuring to see there wasn’t an association between PCBs and autism risk, which has been suggested in other studies. He said it’s too soon to say there’s absolutely no link, though.

“The jury is still out on PCBs and autism,” Frazier said.

The study was published in the Aug. 16 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has more about DDT.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2018 – Daily MedNews

New Research Suggests Glaucoma May Be an Autoimmune Disease

FRIDAY, Aug. 10, 2018 — The eye disease glaucoma may be an autoimmune disorder, a new study suggests.

Glaucoma affects nearly 70 million people worldwide. It damages the retina and optic nerve and can lead to blindness.

In research with mice, scientists found that immune system T-cells cause the retinal damage that occurs in glaucoma, and that previous interactions with bacteria normally found in the body trigger the T-cell attacks on the retina.

“This opens a new approach to prevent and treat glaucoma,” senior co-author Jianzhu Chen said in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology news release. He is a professor of biology at MIT.

Most glaucoma treatments today aim to lower pressure in the eye, but the disease gets worse in many people even after pressure is normalized. Researchers found the same thing in mice, although research in animals doesn’t always produce the same results in humans.

“That led us to the thought that this pressure change must be triggering something progressive, and the first thing that came to mind is that it has to be an immune response,” senior co-author Dr. Dong Feng Chen said in the release.

She is an associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston.

The discovery suggests blocking the autoimmune activity could offer a new approach to treating glaucoma.

Further research will try to determine whether other parts of the immune system play a role in glaucoma, and whether autoimmunity is a factor in degenerative brain diseases, the researchers said.

“What we learn from the eye can be applied to the brain diseases, and may eventually help develop new methods of treatment and diagnosis,” Chen said.

The findings were published Aug. 10 in the journal Nature Communications.

More information

The U.S. National Eye Institute has more on glaucoma.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2018 – Daily MedNews

Early Success in Artificial Ovary Research

An early advance in efforts to develop artificial ovaries for women with cancer who are at risk of becoming infertile has been achieved by scientists.

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can damage the ovaries and leave women infertile. In some cases, all or part of the ovary is removed before those cancer treatments and frozen so that it can be used in the future, BBC News reported.

However, there is a slight risk that the ovarian tissue may contain cancer cells, putting a woman at risk for the return of her cancer.

In this new research, scientists in Denmark removed ovarian follicles and ovarian tissue from women due to have cancer treatment. They removed cancer cells from the ovarian tissue, leaving behind a “scaffold” made up of proteins and collagen, BBC News reported.

The team then grew ovarian follicles on this scaffold of ovarian tissue. This artificial ovary was then transplanted into mice, where the ovarian cells survived and grew.

The research was presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

This is an “exciting” technique, but still requires testing in humans, experts said. Such testing is expected to be conducted over the next few years, BBC News reported.

This approach could enable women who’ve become infertile to get pregnant “naturally”, instead of having to rely on in vitro fertilization (IVF), Stuart Lavery, consultant gynecologist, Hammersmith Hospital, U.K., told BBC News.

Another advantage of ovarian tissue transplants is that women who’ve become infertile due to medical treatments could start having periods again, eliminating the need for hormone replacement therapy, according to Dr. Gillian Lockwood, medical director, Midlands Fertility Services, U.K.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Colorado Offering MMJ Research Grants for Autism, Opioid Prevention, More

Clinical trials that study medical marijuana are few and far between because of the plant’s federally illegal status. Colorado has been the rare exception to that rule, thanks to the passage of Amendment 64, and now the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment hopes to expand on the state’s nine currently funded MMJ studies by offering nearly $ 3 million more in grants for qualified research efforts.

The Colorado General Assembly created a Medical Marijuana Research Grants Program in 2014, the same year that the state’s recreational cannabis sales started, in hopes of attaining concrete evidence on the medical benefits of cannabis. So far the program has funded studies about MMJ’s affect on post-traumatic stress disorder, inflammatory bowel disease among youth, pediatric brain tumors, epilepsy and sleeping disorders; research projects have also compared MMJ to Oxycodone and studied CBD’s treatment of Parkinson’s tremors and pediatric epilepsy. Five of these projects are being conducted by the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus.

The Colorado Board of Health, which is responsible for authorizing grants for the MMJ research program, hasn’t approved an application since 2015 — but with a $ 2.7 million infusion from the state legislature, the CDPHE wants to see more studies. “Priority conditions for study include autism, reducing long-term opioid use for chronic pain, chronic non-nerve pain, dementia and ovarian cancer,” the CDPHE announcement reads. “Up to three grants could be awarded, with the total grant funding not to exceed $ 2.7 million. The remaining $ 300,000 was set aside by the legislature for administration of the grant program by the department.”

The deadline for preliminary applications is July 20, according to the CDPHE, which will then invite a subset of applicants to submit full applications. An advisory council will review the applications and is expected to finalize its recommendations to the Board of Health by late October; the final grants should be awarded before the end of the year.

A bill that would have added autism spectrum disorder to the state’s list of qualified MMJ conditions passed the legislature by wide margins this past session, but it was vetoed by Governor John Hickenlooper, on the “sole concern that medical efficacy of MMJ to treat ASD has yet to be fully studied by medical professionals and scientific experts entrusted to this role at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment,” he explained. Two days later, the governor’s office issued an executive order for the Colorado Board of Health to begin researching the “safety and efficacy of medical marijuana for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder in children.”

In 2017, the Colorado Legislature passed a bill creating a separate licensing program within the Marijuana Enforcement Division that will issue research-and-development licenses for public and private studies by nonprofit and government organizations and commercial businesses. That licensing program is expected to start in July.

Toke of the Town

Research on dogs might shed light on human responses to food: study

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Researchers in Hungary who found that normal and overweight dogs behaved differently in tasks involving food say the dogs’ responses were similar to what might be expected in normal and overweight humans.

Bucka, the 11 year-old overweight mongrel dog, is seen during a test trying to find the reasons for obesity at the Ethology Department of the ELTE University in Budapest, Hungary, June 13, 2018. Picture taken June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Tamas Kaszas

The study suggested dogs could be used as models for future research into the causes and psychological impacts of human obesity, the authors of the paper from Budapest’s ELTE University said.

Researchers put two bowls – one of them holding a good meal, the other empty or containing less attractive food – in front of a series of dogs.

The study found that canines of a normal weight continued obeying instructions to check the second bowl for food, but the obese ones refused after a few rounds.

Slideshow (9 Images)

“We expected the overweight dog to do anything to get food, but in this test, we saw the opposite. The overweight dogs took a negative view,” test leader Orsolya Torda said.

“If a situation is uncertain and they cannot find food, the obese dogs are unwilling to invest energy to search for food – for them the main thing is to find the right food with least energy involved.”

The behavior had possible parallels with overweight people who see food as a reward, said the paper published in the Royal Society Open Science journal.

Reporting by Krisztina Fenyo, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Andrew Heavens

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Is Eight Enough? Pennsylvania Gives Medical Schools Go-Ahead to Research Marijuana

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf proclaimed Monday, May 14, 2018, that medical marijuana research will be conducted at eight universities. This announcement follows a display of public support on Twitter by a fellow Democrat, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. Peduto tweeted Monday, May 11, 2018, to announce his unflinching support for cannabis reform, proclaiming that he “fully […]

Universities in California and Utah Receive Funding to Pursue New Medical Marijuana Research

The University of Utah Health and the University of California San Diego recently announced separate plans to begin new phases of research on medical marijuana. In Utah, the study will focus on the individual effects of cannabinoids on brain processes, while UC San Diego researchers will probe possible treatments for autism with marijuana. Both projects have been made possible by grants from the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation in partnership with the Wholistic Research and Education Foundation.

The University of Utah Health received $ 740,000 to support innovative brain-imaging research, which will analyze how various cannabinoids affect cognition, stress, and pain. The study will involve 40 healthy young adults and seek to understand the causal mechanisms through which cannabinoids interact with receptors in the brain.

“Deciphering the personalized effects of CBD [cannabidiol] and THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] will have a profound impact on how various cannabinoids may best be used for medical treatments,” said Jon-Kar Zubieta, MD, PhD, chair of the University of Utah School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and the study’s co-principal investigator.

With the support of a $ 4.7 million gift — the largest amount ever donated for medical marijuana research in the United States — the University of California San Diego will study the effects of CBD on autism. This research, the first of its kind, will investigate how CBD might correct neurochemical imbalances in individuals with autism, a condition that impacts an estimated 1 in 68 children born today.

“There are unconfirmed reports that cannabidiol could be helpful, but there are no careful studies to document either its benefits or its safety,” commented Igor Grant, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “This gift will enable our researchers to develop and implement a translational program of research that pairs a clinical trial with detailed neurobehavioral observation, as well as basic science studies to determine if cannabidiol holds therapeutic promise, and if so, via what mechanisms.”

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