Fighting Addiction

Grind for September 22nd, 2018
“I’ll say things that are serious and put them in a joke form so people can enjoy them. We laugh to keep from crying.”

– Kanye West


The Headline

Google launches Dataset Search

The Grind

Any random question you have – how far Chicago is from Miami, Johnny Depp’s birthday, the best way to cook tilapia – you can probably find the answer on Google.

But for scientists looking for datasets, finding the answer isn’t so easy. The Internet hosts millions of datasets, but they are stored across thousands of repositories. To make finding datasets easier, Google designed a new search engine geared specifically towards collections of data.

The Details

Google on Wednesday launched version 1 of Dataset Search – a new search engine designed to help scientists find the exact datasets they need.

The first version includes datasets related to the social and environmental sciences as well as information from government websites and news organizations.

The project started with a set of guidelines for dataset provides to ensure Google’s new search engine could ‘understand’ the content of a dataset. For example, Google urged providers to include details on how the data was collected and who could use it in the dataset’s metadata.

Google says the number and type of datasets included in Dataset Search will continue to expand as more providers start following the guidelines.

Eventually, accessing millions of available datasets could be as easy as searching for ‘how many ounces in a pound.’

Medical News

The Headline

New study suggests immune system proteins could be used to fight addiction

The Grind

Addiction is a widespread and serious medical concern that has no definitive treatment.

As addiction rates and deaths from drug overdose continue to rise, scientists are looking into how the immune system could be harnessed to trick the brain out of addiction.

Erin Calipari, who teaches pharmacology at the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research in Nashville, TN, is studying how a specific cytokine produced by the immune system can be used to influence motivation and decision-making.

Her most recent work was published last month in The Journal of Neuroscience.

The Details

The protein Calipari is interested in is called granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF).

G-CSF is known to play a role in neuronal growth and in preventing the death of cells in the brain and spinal cord. Studies suggest G-CSF can influence learning and memory as well as help prevent strokes.

Previous work by Calipari shows that altering G-CSF levels can actually alter a person’s desire to use cocaine without changing motivation for other rewards.

In her newest study, Calipari takes a closer look at the interaction between G-CSF and dopamine, which along with the brain’s reward system is the primary driver of addiction.

Experiments with mice suggest that G-CSF treatments can diminish cravings for food and sugar as well as improve motivation response and cognitive flexibility.

“Now we’re looking at what we need to do before we can take this into human clinical trials,” says Calipari. “This is exciting because we see how peripheral systems such as the immune system could be influencing cravings.”

As noted in Medical News Today, there is already an FDA-approved treatment for addiction involving G-CSF, so the road to clinical trials for humans could be faster than normal.

Did you know… Crocodile babies don’t have sex chromosomes; the temperature at which the egg develops determines gender.