Millions of dollars and thousands of experiments have forced animals to become drug dependent to study human addiction and its ramifications, but these experiments are cruel and overall inapplicable to the problem of human drug addiction.
In a new study out of Sweden, scientists studied addiction in human participants by examining endocannabinoid blood levels, believed to play a role in stress management.
Another frequent use of animals are sickening maternal stress experiments that inflict abuse on pregnant animals and their babies. Here we present a study in humans that examined the impact of maternal stress through studying chemical changes in umbilical cord blood.
Lastly, scientists used artificial skin models instead of wounding animals to demonstrate that electrical stimulation can help heal wounds three times faster, which could have major impact in healing chronic wounds.
Impact of maternal stress during pregnancy on child's health
A new entirely human study from researchers at the University of Cincinnati studied the relationship between maternal stress and the neurodevelopment of babies.
Over 5,500 people participated in the study that analyzed the entire epigenome in association with expectant mothers’ stress levels and causes.
They found that stress during pregnancy was linked to DNA methylation in the umbilical cord blood. This epigenetic modification doesn’t alter the DNA sequence, but the DNA is still modified and can be turned on or off later in life depending on environmental exposure. Future studies will explore how DNA methylation impacts gene expression.
The brain's cannabinoid system protects against addiction following childhood maltreatment
Scientists at Linköping University in Sweden utilized ethical human research to study the brain’s cannabinoid system in relation to addiction, while also looking at the impact of early childhood mistreatment.
Approximately 100 human volunteers were divided into four equal groups depending on their addiction and childhood maltreatment status. Researchers measured endocannabinoid levels through blood draws, carried out stress experiments, and scanned volunteers’ brains with magnetic resonance imaging while testing their reactions to social stimuli.
They found a significant number of people who had experienced childhood maltreatment but did not go on to develop addiction. These “resilient” people showed higher brain activity in three areas of the brain relating to emotional regulation and cognitive abilities and had increased function of the endocannabinoid system.
The use of animals for such research is not only cruel but it can never provide the level of detailed human information that will aid in treatment for drug dependency.
How electricity can heal wounds three times as fast
Scientists at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, and the University of Freiburg, Germany are using artificial skin models to find new and improved methods for wound healing.
Instead of creating wounds in animals, they created wounds in cultured artificial skin in tiny, engineered chips. They next applied electrical stimulation since there has been some belief that this can enhance healing.
The wound that received electrical stimulation healed strikingly faster than the control. They then tested the process with skin models that mimic diabetes patients, observing that electrical stimulation speeded up the healing process for these models as well.
Wounds that are slow to heal have been a serious problem for many patients, sometimes resulting in amputation, and medicine has struggled to address this problem for decades. This new technology shows promise to treat such wounds and help patients experiencing serious problems due to impaired wound healing.
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