Drug Design and Development

Positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) are now being used widely used in drug design and development to characterize specific molecular abnormalities in different regions of the brain in patients with stroke, epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease, as well as psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Tourette...

Mental Illness

The effect of environmental toxins on mental activity is an important direction of research in molecular imaging. The blood-brain barrier keeps harmful substances from entering the brain from the circulating blood, while transporting nutrients needed for mental functioning. Alcohol readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, affecting the acetylcholine, serotonin, GABA, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), and glutamate systems. Also affecting mental activity are herbal extracts, such as those from the...

References

The cyclotron a nuclear transformer. Radiology, 1942. P. Aebersold, J.H. Lawrence. The physiological effects of neutron rays. Ann Rev Physiol, 1942. F. Ajami. The Foreigner's Gift The Americans, The Arabs, and The Iraqis in Iraq, 2007. A. Alavi et al. First FDG PET images of brain. Semin Nucl Med, 1981. C. Anderson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1932. Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology, April 2000 H. Arendt. The Life of the Mind, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971...

Depression

The word depression can refer to a symptom or a disease. Pharmaceutical companies have been a major factor in bringing about the transformation of a symptom into a disease. Branding symptoms as diseases and unceasing advertising on television can produce enormous profits. What in the past might have been considered normal responses to stress are now described as diseases that require medication. Shyness and depression are examples. Some societies associate shyness with politeness, good manners,...

Biological Psychiatry

Better understanding of the roles of acetylcholine, dopamine, epinephrine, norepineph-rine, histamine, and serotonin in the brain brought psychiatry into the mainstream of medicine and led to the development of effective medications. Today, one third of all prescribed medicines in the United States are given to affect mental function. Drugs affecting the serotoninergic or norepinephrine systems are helpful in treating patients with depression, panic disorder, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive...

Alzheimers Disease AD

A typical patient, a 75-year-old retired professor living in a senior living center, began to have difficulty finding his room when returned from meals. He kept asking What's my room number Later, he couldn't remember names, or what people had said to him 2 minutes before. He began to forget mealtimes, became less active and at times seemed agitated and depressed. He lost all self-esteem and confidence. Despite his increasing memory loss, he maintained a good spirit, but eventually began to...

The Violent Brain

Molecular processes in the brain are related to violent behavior. These can be measured in the same way that we take a person's, blood pressure to detect hypertension, or measure blood sugar to detect diabetes. Excessive aggressiveness may someday be treated the way infectious diseases, diabetes, cancer or heart disease are treated. For years, sex offenders have been treated with drugs that increase serotonin levels in the brain, or with drugs that decrease testosterone levels. At least 95 of...

Neuroreceptors

In 1973, Solomon Snyder and Candace Pert proved the existence of opiate receptors in the brain. Snyder had been a postgraduate student of Nobel Prize winner Julius Axelrod, at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD. Axelrod's research was concerned with the chemical events that occurred in the synaptic cleft that connects all neurons. At Hopkins, Snyder and colleagues used radiolabeled naloxone, a drug that inhibits the pain-killing effects of morphine, to delineate the...

Islam

Islam advanced while the West declined during the Middle Ages. By 1928, Constantinople had a population of 2 million, which was twice that of London, three times that of Paris, and eight times that of Rome. The Sunni and Shi'a sects divided Islam in the same way that Catholics and Protestants divided Christianity. A third sect, Wahhabism, was founded by Mohammed ibn-Abad-el-Wahab in what is now Saudi Arabia. The Sunni were the orthodox the Shi'a were the heretics and the Wahhabites were the...

The Sleeping Brain

In 1953, Eugene Aserinsky and Nathaniel Kleitman at the University of Chicago are the founders of modern research on sleep. Using the EEG, Aserkinsky discovered rapid eye movements (REM) that occur is associated when a person is dreaming and is associated with an increase in neuronal activity. The stages of sleep are as follows stage 1, light sleep stage 2, an intermediate stage between REM and deep sleep and stages 3 and 4, deep sleep, when electrical activity is very slow. During sleep, FDG...

Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering is the manipulation of an organism's DNA. In 1976, with venture capitalist Robert Swanson, Herbert Boyer founded a company called Genentech to use recombinant DNA technology to produce medicines. In 1978, the company successfully inserted the human insulin gene into E. coli bacteria and then grew them to produce commercial amounts of insulin. Subsequently, the company produced Rituxan for the treatment of patients with low-grade or follicular B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma,...

Conclusion

In former days, when men sailed only by observation of the stars, they could cast along the shores of the old continent or cross a few Mediterranean seas but before the ocean could be traversed and the new world discovered, the use of the mariner's needle as a more faithful and certain guide, had to be found out Francis Bacon (1561-1626). The basic premise of this book is that we can create a molecular theory of mental illness, analogous to the germ theory of disease. Molecular imaging makes it...

Parkinsons Disease PD

The symptoms and signs of AD and PD often occur in the same patient. The similarity of many of the manifestations of PD and AD are so great that they seem to be variants of the same pathological processes. In PD, there is a loss of neurons in the substantia nigra and elsewhere in the brain in association with the presence of protein deposits in the cytoplasm of neurons (Lewy bodies) and thread-like proteinaceous inclusions within Lewy neurites. For years, it was thought that environmental...

Violence and Crime

A psychologically normal 55-year-old man had a large acoustic neuroma removed from his brain. Following operation, he became so violently angry and aggressive that he was unable to work, and, according to his wife, became impossible to live with. After six months of misery, he was begun on treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to increase the levels of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, in his brain. After two weeks of treatment, he was able to return to his normal...

The Physics of Radioactivity

In Paris in 1896, Henri Becquerel, a physicist born in Paris in 1852, was studying fluorescence, the phenomenon where certain minerals, after exposure to sunlight, emit a faint luminosity when in the dark. Both his father and grandfather were physicists. The year before, he had been appointed Professor of Applied Physics. William Conrad Roentgen in Germany had described electromagnetic radiation that has a shorter wavelength than visible light. Four months later, Becquerel thought that this...

Good vs Evil

The new religion that appeared in Persia in the third century CE, called Manichaeism, taught that all matter, including the human body, was intrinsically evil. Other religions, including Christianity, teach that human beings are intrinsically good, and that sin is a failing to follow one's natural instincts to do good. In his book Tree of Smoke, (Farrar, Straus and Grouse, 2007), Denis Johnson writes that there is a contest between good and evil in every human being. In war, soldiers are...

Molecular Theory of Mental Disease

The technologies positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) made it possible to move the orientation of medical science from organs, tissues, and circulating blood to cells and molecules. This brought about a new view of disease. The germ theory of disease views disease as a struggle between a human host and offending bacterial organisms, many of which are normal flora that become infectious. Anton van Leeuwenhoek's invention of the microscope in...

The Hormone of Love

In William Shakespeare's day (1564-1616), there was wrangling about the relative importance of the heart or the brain as the seat of intelligence and emotions. He wrote, Tell me where is fancy bred in the heart or in the head. In 2007, in her book The Chemistry of Love, Teresa Pitman wrote, When my first baby was born, the doctor laid his wet, pink body on my stomach. As I helped him towards my breast, the room seemed to fill up with light and I felt a new burst of energy. I was overwhelmed by...

Johns Hopkins Medicine

In 1957, I left the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, to begin a 1-year research fellowship at Hammersmith Hospital. When I saw the exciting work being done with cyclotron-produced radionuclides at Hammersmith, I decided that my goal in life would be to work in the field that was then called atomic medicine. Later, its name was changed to nuclear medicine, and today the field is called molecular imaging. Its basic principle remained the use of radioactive tracers to measure...

Molecules of Aggression

PET and SPECT have revealed abnormalities in dementia, movement disorders, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Molecular processes also are related to aggressiveness, emotional stability, conscientiousness, sociability, and selfishness. Thoughts stimulated by controlled external events have been correlated with specific changes in molecular processes, such as F-18 FDG accumulation, in specific regions of the brain. Emotions, such as aggression, also can be correlated to chemical processes...

William G Myers

A key pioneer in the development of the Anger camera was the late William G. Myers of Ohio State University. As a graduate student at Ohio State, Bill's Ph.D. thesis was on the potential role of the cyclotron in biomedicine as the source of positron-emitting radiotracers. Bill had participated in the atomic bomb testing at Bikini prior to becoming an internist and nuclear physician. He traveled every summer to the Donner Laboratory to direct a course in the use of radioactive tracers in...

Informed Consent

Studies of brain chemistry and behavior can be carried out in a collaboration between the criminal justice system and the NIH. No one would become the subject of an experiment without his or her informed consent. Prisoners cannot give truly informed consent while they are in prison, but a prisoner can be well informed, and never be asked to give up his or her rights to participate in experiments. These studies should never be harmful, and might be beneficial. What is learned might be helpful in...

Imaging Opiate Receptors

On May 23, 1984, after parking my car in the parking lot on the east side of the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins, I crossed Wolfe Street to enter the hospital. I took an elevator to the Anesthesiology Department, where I was to be injected with carfentanil, a drug that had been given to wild animals, such as black bears and bison, to immobilize them, but never before to humans. The goal of our research was to obtain a better understanding of the role that the opioid system played in...