Dec. 13 - 17

Hallucinogen salvia popular for its intense high
CTV News (Canada)
The once squeaky-clean image of former teen Disney star Miley Cyrus took another hit – so to speak – this weekend, when a video emerged of her purportedly smoking a bong filled with the stuff. ...Dr. Bryan Roth, a professor of pharmacology at the University of North Carolina explains that the drug is an intense hallucinogenic that's fairly new on the drug scene. He says in the late '90s, recreational drug growers learned how to add the purified active ingredient, salvinorum A, to plants. "It's only in the last four or five years that it has taken off as a fad," he told CTV's Canada AM from Chapel Hill, N.C.

Should we all contribute DNA for research?
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
As genetic scientists learn more about how inherited traits affect human health, ethical questions increasingly arise over the availability and ownership of the DNA samples needed for research. Because large quantities of genetic material are needed to continue on this path of discovery, ethicists are asking whether every citizen has a moral duty to participate in biomedical research. That question was posed recently at a research ethics lecture delivered by Eric Juengst at UNC-Chapel Hill's N.C. TraCS Institute, which is part of a consortium of academic centers whose mission is to help move scientific discoveries into practical use.

Just One Ruling, But an Outsize One
The New York Times
By the numbers, President Obama is beating opponents of his signature health care bill two to one in federal court. ...“You have all these comments out there that it’s a government takeover of health care, that it’s going to be bad for seniors, that it’s pulling the plug on grandma,” said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina. “That stuff has stuck politically, and it’s evident in those numbers, in the very divided public support for reform.”

Social Security Isn't the Problem... But Fear for the Future of Medicare
The Huffington Post
..."I don't think there's any question that there's intensifying pressure to control Medicare costs and that pressure is going to intensify more over time when you look at the deficit and you see that really Social Security is a minor contributor. It's mainly health care," said Jonathan Oberlander, professor of social medicine at the University of North Carolina. "Medicare has long been about budget politics."

Eli Lilly’s Ingram, Nobel Prize winner Smithies among bioscience honorees
The Triangle Business Journal
Eli Lily Chairman Robert Ingram and Dr. Oliver Smithies, the UNC-Chapel Hill professor and Nobel Prize winner, head an impressive list of 17 individuals honored for their roles in the development of North Carolina’s bioscience industry. The North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research unveiled the list Monday.

Salvia says high
Science News
...“This is a landmark paper because it’s the first paper in which authentic salvinorin A was administered to human volunteers under controlled conditions, and it was shown to be hallucinogenic,” says psychiatrist and pharmacologist Bryan Roth of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was not involved in the research. “All we had before were anecdotal reports, where people had bought salvia extract from their local smoke shop.”

Breast cancer classification tech licensed
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
Technology originally developed by UNC genetics professor and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member Chuck Perou, PhD, and colleagues has been licensed to NanoString Technologies of Seattle, Wash. The gene signature, known as "PAM50," has been shown in multiple research studies and peer-reviewed publications to provide a consistent and valid classification of breast cancers into distinct subtypes.

Tar Heel-funded tobacco prevention programs appear to be paying dividends
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine suggest expanding the HWTF program mission to include adult populations at highest risk of tobacco-related diseases. Researchers also recommend expanding clean air legislation to protect all workers, a tobacco tax stamp to reduce cigarette smuggling, and higher tobacco excise measures proven to further reduce consumption.

PolitiFact's Lie of the Year: No topping 'government takeover'
The St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
...By selecting "government takeover" as Lie of the Year, PolitiFact is not making a judgment on whether the health care law is good policy. The phrase is simply not true. Said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: "The label 'government takeover' has no basis in reality, but instead reflects a political dynamic where conservatives label any increase in government authority in health care as a 'takeover.' "

Scientists discover potential strategy to aid cancer vaccines
The Chapel Hill Herald
The promise of vaccines targeted against various types of cancer has raised the hopes of patients and their families. The reality, however, is that these promising treatments are difficult to develop. One of the challenges is identifying a discrete cellular target to stop cancer growth without inactivating the immune system. Scientists at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center report a laboratory finding that has the potential to increase the effectiveness of therapeutic cancer vaccines.

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