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Snails On Methamphetamine 93

Posted by samzenpus
from the escargot-on-ice dept.
sciencehabit writes "Science answers the question: What happens when you put a snail on speed? From the article: 'The results suggest that meth improves memory, something that has been previously observed in creatures with large, complex brains like rats and humans. But since the snails store their memories in a simple, three-neuron network, the team hopes that studying the meth effect in these gastropods will help pinpoint how the drug's memory magnification powers work.'"

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Snails On Methamphetamine

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  • by canajin56 (660655) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @03:02PM (#32422172)

    What? They'll never sell meth OTC, it's addiction potential is too high. And extract byproducts? Meth isn't a blend of a lot of chemicals, like say, an herbal product, it's a chemical. A single one. You can't extract juts the good parts. But, it's not unreasonable to imagine that, for severe memory problems, Meth might eventually get approved. It's already approved and prescribed for ADD, plus used off-label for narcolepsy and depression. Even if not approved for memory, a doctor might still prescribe it off-label for such a purpose. Just remember, for lots of the "designer" drugs like Meth, GHB, Ecstacy, etc. the recreational dose is much higher than the therapeutic dose. So, being prescribed it doesn't mean you go around tweaking on Meth all the time. The doses are low, and they don't let you fill the script all at once, because you COULD purify it into higher doses.

    The only way this could ever end up as something OTC would be if they figure out why, and design a new drug with the same memory enhancing effect, which by a stroke of luck has no serious side effects, isn't (too) addictive, and also evades the moral police by not having a euphoric or inebriating effect. Then it has to be tested for a few decades to PROVE it's totally harmless, then it MIGHT get approved for use without a prescription. (Of course, if they find this similar chemical in a plant, you can sell it as "herbal" straight away, with zero testing or oversight, since it's considered neither a food nor a drug, and the FDA has no jurisdiction).

  • by nerdonamotorcycle (710980) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @03:04PM (#32422220)
    "Snails on Speed" is a card in the game Munchkin. Life imitates art.
  • by MachDelta (704883) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @03:51PM (#32422744)

    Er, Focalin isn't chemically different than Ritalin [wikipedia.org] - they're both C14-H19-NO2. The difference between the two, apparently, is that Focalin contains only one stereoisomer of the compound and Ritalin contains both. As a (gross) example my bio prof once used, if you had two bags full of severed hands, Ritalin would be the bag of left and right hands but Focalin would only contain left hands. They're all the same compound (hands), but some of them are mirror images of the others (left vs right).

    An interesting aside is that the body commonly treats steroisomers very differently. A good example of this would be Thalidomide, which was commonly prescribed to pregnant women in the 50's: One isomer of Thalidomide is a sedative (was prescribed for morning sickness), but the other isomer wreaked all kinds of havoc on the fetus and caused birth defects. Since the body freely metabolizes one form from the other (ie: even given a pure dose of L-Thalidomide, the body would convert some of it to R-Thalidomide), the drug is no longer used. This all varies by compound though. In some cases, steroisomers have different effects, in some cases they have the same (or similar) effect. And sometimes one isomer of a compound is active and the other inert - penicillin is an example of that.
    Biochemistry is crazy stuff. :)

  • by Creepy (93888) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @05:03PM (#32423908) Journal

    With the destructive effects that I've seen from meth abusers at my rental property (out of 15 renters in the past 10 years, two have self-destructed into meth abuse), I'm surprised it's still prescribed at all. I would think Modifinil would heavily replace it in that role for almost all of the roles it plays (or Adrafinil, though that hasn't been approved in the US). It mainly hits the same receptors as meth, but is not highly addictive and works on some of the same receptors. It has been petitioned to be legalized OTC (over-the-counter), but I don't know where that is at - I imagine that would be a cash cow for the creator, as I believe it was invented in the mid-1990s (the parent, Adrafinil was 1970s, so I'm not sure the state of any patents). There are some known severe side effects, but as far as I can tell they are rare.

    I'd be curious to see a meth'd up snail and a modifinil snail side by side...

  • by bynary (827120) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @05:51PM (#32424550) Homepage
    So, they trained snails to stop using built-in survival mechanisms and then gave them drugs that prevented the snails from going back into survival mode. Seems to me like they're not improving memory but are instead prohibiting instinct.
  • Re:Grandma on Meth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @06:45PM (#32425172)

    Speed, if one doesn't grow to fond of it, is actually quite nice. It is easy, however, to grow too fond of it.
    An appropriate solution would be to invent friendlier speed for appropriate speedful uses.
    (Aircrew "go" pills come to mind as an ethical use of speed.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @09:00PM (#32426318)

    ...Meth has many amazing, life affirming affects. The down sides, while massive and long term, still cannot disaude thousands of intelligent, well informed new users every year.

    Living a short, soon-to-be-painful life with Meth is comparable to living 70 years without the cognitive, psychological, and emotional pinnicle reached after the first real hit from a Meth pipe.

    You are living in an ignorant bliss. Meth users need no new excuse; the omnipresent excuse is the return to that ultimate, probably-never-but-possibly-again-reachable-by-Meth pinnacle that they experienced. Their only major dissuasion is the every approaching psychosis due to the human brains inability to handle the brain changes caused. One moment at that pinnacle is worth one thousand useless, sober, rat-race lives.

    The true future of humanity, exists in the generation of states similar to this (and other dangerous or difficult to reach pinnicles) by easy, safe and maintainable means. All human development that does not move towards these goals will become blatently pointless as this goal is achieved.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming

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