rebecca brachman

rebecca brachman.png

intro’d to Rebecca via her tedxny sept 2016 – Could a drug prevent depression and PTSD?

1950s..knew that tb was caused by a highly contagious bacterial infection..new drug..iproniazid..patients were elated..more social/energetic. ..dancing in the halls..inappropriately happy…that is how first antidepressant discovered

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accidental discovery not uncommon in science but requires more than just a happy accident..have to be able to recognize it 

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a lot of what was true in early 1900s about infectious disease..can say now about psych disorders

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we are in middle of epidemic of mood disorders like depression/ptsd ..1 in 4 of all adults in us suffers from mental illness..depression now surpassed hiv/aids/malaria/diabetes/war..as leading cause of disability worldwide..like tb in 50s..don’t know what causes it..once developed..chronic..lasts a lifetime..no known cures

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second antidepressant discovered..also by accident..in 50s, from antihistamine that was making people manic..imipramine. .this sort of repurposing is actually quite challenging. ..actually just listed it as a side effect

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recommended iproniazid only be used in extreme tb and in patients emotionally stable..exact opp of how we use as antidepressant

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functional fixedness is a bias that affects all of us…makes repurposing hard for all of us

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serotonin..a chemical signal in the brain..a neurotransmitter

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2016..still have no cures for mood disorders..just drugs that suppress symptoms

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we’ve focused on serotonin for 30 years..often to exclusion of other things..still have no cures..and what if serotonin isn’t all there is to depression..what if not even key part of it..means no matter how much time/money/effort we put into it..will never lead to cure

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in past few years..drs have discovered probably first truly new antidepressant since the ssris..calypsol..works very quickly..w/in a few hours ..doesn’t work on serotonin..works on glutamate..another neurotransmitter..also repurposed

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2013..columbia uni..working w/christine ann denny..studying calypsol as antidepressant in mice

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every time someone ran it..confirmed same..one injection of calypsol was somehow protecting against stress for weeks

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don’t know what causes depression..do know stress is initial trigger in 80% of cases..and depression/ptsd are different diseases..but this is something they share in common. ..this ability to experience stress and be resilient and bounce back and not develop depression/ptsd..known as stress resilience..thought of it as passive property…but what if it were active..could enhance it

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we had accidentally discovered first resilience-enhancing drug. .only a tiny amount ..lasted for weeks..not like anything you see w/antidepressants

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kind of similar to immune vaccines..it’s your own immune system that’s developed resistance and resilience ..antidepressants only suppress symptoms.. why you have to keep taking them for life 

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calling our resilience-enhancing drugs..paravaccines..vaccine-like

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scale of diseases..2010..global ..estimated 2.5 tn..since chronic..cost is compounding ..expected to rise up to 6tn in next 15 years

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repurposing can be challenging because of our prior biases…calypsol has another name..ketamine..special k..a club drug..drug of abuse…still used across world as anesthetic..children/battlefield..drug of choice in developing nations because doesn’t affect breathing. ..on the world health org list of most essential meds

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..all of the other drugs we’ve discovered..are totally new..have to go thru fda process..before ever used in humans..that will be years..so if we want something sooner..ketamine already fda-approved..generic..available..could develop for fraction of price/time

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other challenge to repurposing drugs..policy..no incentives once drug is generic/off-patent/exclusive to encourage pharma companies to develop them..completely novel in psychiatry..to use drugs to prevent mental illness as opposed to just treat it

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sicko

forbidden cures

and in realm of forbiddens.. both of these shared in last week:

mushrooms for depression

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/01/magic-mushroom-ingredient-psilocybin-can-lift-depression-studies-show

ecstacy for ptsd

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/us/ptsd-mdma-ecstasy.html

dna

rna ness

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find/follow Rebecca:

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Preventing Mental Illness With a Stress Vaccine

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/11/preventing-mental-illness-with-a-stress-vaccine/508349/

Influenced by a school shooting, a neuroscientist is on a mission to change how both the brain and immune system handle stress.

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Rebecca Brachman was a sophomore at the time, at a high school in New Jersey whose demographics mirrored Columbine’s. When the local school board asked students to come up with ways to prevent a similar tragedy in their town, many condemned gun access. Brachman took a different angle: mental health.

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The question sparked in Brachman a deep drive to understand—and improve—what she refers to as “the human condition.” Now a neuroscientist at Columbia University, she is among a burgeoning group of researchers attempting to makes sense of the complex relationship between stress and mental illness. Long-term stress is considered responsible for 60 percent of all human illness and disease, according to the American Institute of Stress. At its extremes, it can lead to mental breakdowns, depression, suicide—and possibly school shootings. But scientists have yet to determine how stress causes these ailments. It could be crippling the brain; it could be overwhelming the immune system. Maybe it’s some combination of the two.

Brachman wants to fix things either way. Her group at Columbia is investigating whether there are ways to change how both the brain and immune system handle stress—whether there’s a specific shot or procedure or pill to help people healthily regulate it. In essence, they’re looking for a stress vaccine. And their progress is promising.

or perhaps.. a way to detox us..

As far back as 1936, scientists noted the connection between stress and ulcers, high blood pressure, allergic reactions, and other maladies. Analyzing the lives of children born to mothers who were pregnant during the Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944, a famine that affected more than 4.5 million people, researchers found that prenatal exposure to extreme stress led to long-term cognitive and mental-health issues, as well as addiction. Prenatal stress exposure has since been linked withADHD in children as old as 15 years, increased risk for autism, greater impulsivity in boys and girls, and poorer task performance in boys. Exposure during the first trimester increases susceptibility to schizophrenia, while exposure during the second and third trimesters is linked with increased risk for depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder.

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she’s seeking a way for people to stop the response before it turns dangerous—before it triggers mental illness. I

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Brachman’s hope is to create a drug that improves resilience so much that it inoculates people against stress, allowing even those most at risk of developing depression and other disorders to instead only enjoy stress’s benefits.

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In an ideal world, a vaccine would allow first responders to return from disaster zones unaffected by the stress of their jobs and soldiers to return from war zones without the risk of debilitating conditions such as PTSD; it could prevent depression from developing when a person is out of work, and it could give children in extreme poverty a better shot at overcoming their upbringing.

and ideal world would have less disaster zones and now war zones..

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To approach stress-induced mental illness as something that can be prevented, she and Brachman believe, would be so much more effective.

agreed… less disaster.. no war..  et al.. ie: a nother way to live

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