Roz's Rat Race

A personal and academic journey through Pharmacology and Toxicology

Final Assignment

Synthetic cannabinoids were initially developed in the United States and Europe for use in research requiring cannabinoid receptor ligands. By  2008, however, these compounds had begun to be exploited as drugs of abuse, mixed with herbal packages and sold as “K2” or “Spice.” In more recent years, various new synthetic cannabinoids have appeared on the black market that are often far more potent than  Δ⁹-THC and hence have strongly aversive side effects not normally seen with conventional cannabis use. For instance, a mass intoxication incident occurred in July 2016 in New York City following use of AK-47 24 Karat Gold, a product containing the synthetic cannabinoid AMB-FUBINACA (potency 85 times greater than THC at the CB1 receptor). The lay press dubbed the event a “zombie outbreak” due to the fact that the 33 individuals who used the drug exhibited an altered mental state, blank stares, groaning, and sluggish movements of the arms and legs. Such severe cases of intoxication illustrate the potential dangers of synthetic cannabinoids and the need to prevent future outbreaks.

Adams, A.J., Banister, S.D., Irizarry, L., Schwartz,M., & Gerona, R. (2017). “Zombie” outbreak caused by the synthetic cannabinoid AMB-FUBINACA in New York. The New England Journal of Medicine, 376(3), 235-242.

Nourianz (istradefylline)

Nourianz (istradefylline) was approved by the FDA in August 2019 for use along with levidopa/carbidopa in adult Parkinson’s Disease patients suffering from “off” episodes (periods when motor symptoms do not respond as well to treatment). Nourianz acts as an adenosine A2A receptor antagonist, although the precise mechanisms by which it affects Parkinson’s Disease symptoms are unknown. Side effects include insomnia, dyskinesia, dizziness, constipation, nausea, and hallucinations. The FDA approved Nourianz after four randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind studies in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. In these studies, Parkinson’s patients treated once daily with 20 mg or 40 mg Nourianz experienced significantly less “off” time during their waking hours relative to patients treated with placebo. Nourianz is administered orally in tablet form (may be taken with or without food), at a dosage of 20 mg taken once daily. The drug is produced by Kyowa-Kirin. Since the prevalence of “off” episodes is a major factor impairing quality of life in Parkinson’s patients, Nourianz is a promising new addition to the list of available treatments for the disease.

Journal Club Presentation 11/8/19

Journal Club Presentation

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