Replacing Opioids, Preventing Birth Defects (Abstract Science: Aug. 7 - 11)
Jillian Scola

Replacing Opioids, Preventing Birth Defects (Abstract Science: Aug. 7 - 11)

A new breakthrough into chronic pain treatment, what your Instagram photos say about your personality and can an extra dose of B3 prevent birth defects?

Vitamin B3 could help prevent birth defects

(Science, 8/9/2017, Gretchen Vogel)

Physicians already recommend that women consume specific amounts of folic acid, or vitamin B9, to prevent spinal cord defects but could Vitamin B3 be the latest magic supplement for moms-to-be?  The vitamin can help compensate for defects in the body’s ability to make a molecule, called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which researchers have linked for the first time to healthy fetal development in humans. The find raises the possibility that boosting levels of B3 in pregnant women’s diets might help lower overall rates of birth defects. More human studies are needed before doctors could recommend B3 supplements for pregnant women but the work opens a potentially exciting new area of research for developmental biologists: Trying to understand how cell metabolism affects development.


Cancer Drugs Show Potential to Replace Opioids in Managing Chronic Pain

(ALN Magazine, 8/9/2017, McGill University)

Every day, more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids is a serious national crisis that affects public health. That is why the discovery of a new biological pathway involved in pain processing offers hope for existing cancer drugs.  Scientists have discovered epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) blockers, routinely given to lung cancer patients to inhibit tumor growth, were as potent analgesics as morphine in mouse models of inflammatory and chronic pain. The researchers believe the EGFR pain pathway they found in mice and fruit flies is relevant to humans because of genetic results also reported in the paper on human cohorts with chronic facial pain, which linked two genes in the EGFR pathway.


Your Instagram Posts May Hold Clues to Your Mental Health

(NY Times, 8/10/2017, Niraj Chokshi)

Smile! You think it’s just an Instagram photo with a sultry filter but could it mean more? According to a recent study in the journal EPJ Data Science, Instagram users with a history of depression seem to present the world differently from their peers. Researchers identified participants as “depressed” or “healthy” based on whether they reported having received a clinical diagnosis of depression in the past. They then used machine-learning tools to find patterns in the photos and to create a model predicting depression by the posts. They found that depressed participants used fewer Instagram filters, those which allow users to digitally alter a photo’s brightness and coloring before it is posted. When these users did add a filter, they tended to choose “Inkwell,” which drains a photo of its color, making it black-and-white. The healthier users tended to prefer “Valencia,” which lightens a photo’s tint.



—Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola