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LSD, magic mushrooms less harmful than thought and should be reclassified, says renowned psychiatrist
By NewsGram Staff Writer
Psychedelics were made illegal in 1967, when medical research suggested widespread concern about their psychological and social harms.
Today, a leading psychiatrist claims that psychedelic drugs, including LSD and magic mushrooms, are less harmful than projected and should be reclassified in order to promote research into their potential benefits.
“No evidence had ever shown the drugs to be habit-forming. There is also little evidence of harm when used in controlled settings, and a wealth of studies indicating that they have uses in the treatment of common psychiatric disorders”, writes Dr James Rucker, a psychiarist at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience
According to one small Swiss study, LSD and psilocybin- the active compound in magic mushrooms–can be used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety in terminally ill patients.
Other researchers are starting to consider how such psychedelics can benefit addicts and those suffering from the obsessive compulsive disorder.
Dr Rucker, however, argues that larger trials are “almost impossible” because of the “practical, financial, and bureaucratic obstacles” imposed by the drugs’ legal status.
Magic mushrooms and LSD are classified as class A and schedule 1 drugs in the UK. Only four hospitals in the UK possess licenses to conduct research due to the exorbitant amount(£5,000) that one has to shell out for holding such a license.
Complying with international regulations also involves hefty charges for researchers who wish to acquire the drugs. According to Dr Rucker, a gram of psilocybin can cost up to £100,000.
“These restrictions, and the accompanying bureaucracy, mean that the cost of clinical research using psychedelics is five to 10 times that of research into less restricted (but more harmful) drugs such as heroin – with no prospect that the benefits can be translated into wider practice,” Rucker writes in BMJ
Rucker further argues that national and international bodies should reclassify psychedelics as a schedule 2 drugs, to enable a comprehensive, evidence-based assessment of their therapeutic potential.
Former chairman of the Advisory council on the misuse of drugs, Professor David Nutt was dismissed after saying that LSD and ecstasy are less harmful than alcohol.
An outspoken critic of the restrictions around studies of psychedelics, Professor Nutt is currently conducting research into psychedelics’ effects on the brain. His team at Imperial College London are the first in the world to conduct brain scans on people under the influence of LSD.
Nutt compares the repression of such research to the censorship of Galileo and the banning of the telescope. His team recently announced they would have to crowd-fund the next stages of their research, amid prospects of deteriorating funds.
Stating his opposition in no uncertain terms, Mike Penning, Minister for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Victims said, “Drugs are illegal where scientific and medical analysis has shown they are harmful to human health. They destroy lives, cause misery to families and communities, and this Government has no intention of decriminalising them.”
“We have a clear licensing regime, supported by legislation, which allows legitimate research to take place in a secure environment while ensuring that harmful drugs are not misused and do not get into the hands of criminals”, Penning further added.
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)