Monday January 21, 2019

New Sleeping Pill Can Help Patients Wake up in Response to Threat

However, more studies on humans are needed to confirm DORA safety and efficacy, they noted

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Pills (representational Image), Pixabay

Japanese scientists have shown that a new class of sleeping pill that preserves the ability to wake in response to a threat, unlike the commonly prescribed drugs that muffles a sleeping brain’s “intruder alert”.

Even during sleep the brain continuously processes sensory information, waking us if it detects a threat. But the most widely prescribed class of sleeping pills, known as benzodiazepines, makes us less likely to rouse in response to sensory input.

The findings showed that millions prescribed on these sleeping pills would sleep through a fire alarm as someone vacuuming next to their bed.

 However, the new class of drugs called dual orexin receptor antagonists (DORAs) more selectively targeted the brain’s sleep or wake pathways, which gives them safety advantages over benzodiazepines, said researchers from the Kagoshima University.

These include a reduced “hangover effect”, with DORAs less likely to affect driving ability the day after use.

“Benzodiazepines stimulate the widespread brain receptor GABA-A, which makes us sleepy but also suppresses off-target brain areas – including the ‘gatekeeper’ that decides which sensory inputs to process,” explained author Tomoyuki Kuwaki, Professor at the varsity.

Contraception, Men
New sleeping pill can help patients wake up in response to threat.

In the study, published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience journal, mice that were given the new experimental hypnotic drug DORA-22 wake as quickly when threatened as drug-free sleepers — and then fall back asleep as quickly as ones given standard sleeping pills, once the threat is gone.

While DORA-22 allows mice to wake to a threat, it still helps them sleep.

Thus, the selectivity of DORAs could make them a safer alternative during sleep as well — by allowing the brain’s sensory gatekeeper to stay vigilant to threats, the researchers said.

Also Read- Here’s What Causes Cancer in Children

However, more studies on humans are needed to confirm DORA safety and efficacy, they noted.

“Although it remains to be seen whether DORAs have the same properties when used in humans, our study provides important and promising insight into the safety of these hypnotics,” Kuwaki said. (IANS)

Next Story

Aggressive Treatment Of Prostate Cancer May Also Lead To Usage Of Anti-Depressants: Study

Sexual dysfunction is a common adverse effect of antidepressants

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Anti-depressants, prostate cancer
The antidepressant drug Prozac, also known as fluoxetine, is pictured. VOA

Men with prostate cancer who get surgery or radiation are also more likely start taking antidepressants than their counterparts who don’t get aggressive treatment, a recent study suggests.

Many men with early-stage prostate cancer may not need treatment right away, or ever, because these tumors often don’t grow fast enough to cause symptoms or prove fatal. In the absence of symptoms or tests that suggest tumors are growing quickly, doctors may advise men to put off immediate treatments like surgery or radiation and instead get regular screenings to reassess whether the cancer is dangerous enough to warrant
intervention.

For the current study, researchers examined data on men with early-stage prostate cancer, including 4,952 people who had surgery, 4,994 who got radiation and 2,136 who opted instead for surveillance, or “watchful waiting.” In the year before their cancer diagnosis, 7.7 percent of the men were prescribed antidepressants, and this climbed to 10.5 percent in the first year after diagnosis.

 

Cancer, Prostate cancer
British Prime Minister Theresa May, right, is shown the advanced radiotherapy system during a visit to announce new funding and research into prostate cancer, at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. VOA

 

Compared to a control group of men in the general population without a prostate cancer diagnosis, men with prostate cancer were 49 percent more likely to be taking antidepressants five years after surgery and 33 percent more likely to take antidepressants five years after radiation treatment, the study found.

But watchful waiting wasn’t linked to any increase in the odds of men taking antidepressants.

“Prostate cancer patients often fit the demographic profile (white, older age, and male) of someone at risk for depression,” said senior study author Dr. Robert Nam of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

“Once they receive treatment for prostate cancer, whether that is surgery or radiation, they may experience treatment-related side effects, such as erectile dysfunction, incontinence, and bowel dysfunction, which can significantly
worsen quality of life,” Nam said by email.

Cancer, Prostate cancer
Prostate Cancer Blood Test

Roughly half of men diagnosed with prostate cancer receive treatment known as androgen deprivation therapy, which suppresses production of the male sex hormone testosterone and contributes to mood disorders, Nam added.

Men in the study who received surveillance tended to be older and were more likely to have multiple chronic health problems than the patients who got surgery or radiation.

Limiting factors

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how different approaches to prostate cancer treatment might directly impact mental health. Another limitation is the potential for factors not measured in the study to have influenced both the treatment decisions men made and their mental health, researchers note in European Urology.

A separate study in the same journal, however, looked at trends in management of erectile function after prostate cancer surgery and offered fresh evidence that many men may be missing out on interventions that could improve their sexual health and quality of life.

Prostate cancer
FILE – A patient receives chemotherapy treatment. VOA

The study examined data on 2,364 patients who had prostate cancer surgery at one U.S. academic medical center between 2008 and 2015.

Researchers didn’t find any meaningful changes in the proportion of men who had erectile dysfunction up to two years after surgery, despite advances in surgical care and postoperative penile rehabilitation during the study period.
This study also wasn’t a controlled experiment, and it’s possible that results from a single medical center might not reflect outcomes for men who got prostate cancer treatment elsewhere.

The study also didn’t examine how any use of antidepressants might have played a role in men’s sexual health after prostate cancer surgery.

Also Read: Pain After Delivery Linked To Postpartum Depression

“Sexual dysfunction is a common adverse effect of antidepressants,” Nam said.

“Identifying the cause of the sexual dysfunction can be complicated as these symptoms are also associated with depression and can be improved once the patient’s depression is treated,” Nam added. “A healthy lifestyle, consisting of a well-balanced diet and exercise, is an important way to promote good sexual function, regardless of underlying medical
conditions.” (VOA)