Ketamine – is it the new hope for depression?

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

After decades of lack of innovation in the depression field, maybe patients having tried several treatment options could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Ketamine is a potent analgesic used in surgery. As the compound is highly soluble in lipids, it ensures a rapid onset of the effects leading to a quick relief of depression symptoms without the typical side effects of standard antidepressants like SSRI.

However, there are some health consequences of administering that drug in the long term:

  • CNS effects: as ketamine is considered to be a cerebral vasodilator that increases cerebral blood flow, it has anticonvulsant effects. However, its use could be limited as it has also unpleasant emergence reactions such as hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, and increased and distorted visual, tactile, and auditory sensitivity.
  • Cardiovascular effects: ketamine increases blood pressure, heart rate and cardiac output.
  • Respiratory effects: ketamine relaxes bronchial smooth muscles and may be helpful in patients with reactive airways and in the management of patients experiencing bronchoconstriction.

The cardiovascular effects could limit its used in depressed patients with cardiovascular conditions. Furthermore, we know that ketamine is safe when used for anesthesia but we have no idea about its long-term safety. For depression, it is given every few weeks for several months.

Another point worth to mention is the lack of reimbursement: it is not covered by any health insurance today and patients have to pay out of the pocket. Depending on the dose and the healthcare provider, it could range from USD 400 to 800 in USA.

Currently, late-stage studies are ongoing with compounds closed to ketamine developed by Johnson & Johnson and Allergan in order to fill this gap and provide patients with access to a safe and effective drug.

Thinking forward about mental health, we could maybe study psychoactive drugs more in-depth in order to discover whether they could be used in a controlled setting to ease some mental disorders.

Initiatives are launched to go into this direction. The future will tell…

 

Additional insights:

Ketamine Stirs Up Hope—and Controversy—as a Depression Drug – Wired – 2019

Ketamine Could Be the Key to Reversing America’s Rising Suicide Rate – Bloomberg Businessweek – 2019

Can we stop suicide? – NYT – 2018

Psilocybin – A long, strange trip – Because psilocybin research has been restricted, scientists actually don’t know a lot about how it does what it does; only recently has that started to change. To begin with, its chemical structure is similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Evidence from a 2012 study suggests that psilocybin “knocks out” serotonin receptors by occupying them, which “appears to allow information to travel more freely in the brain”; two areas in which it knocks out some activity are associated with self-awareness. – Quartz – 2018

Mind molding psychedelic drugs could treat depression, and other mental illnesses – The Conversation – 2018

The Effects of Cannabis Among Adults With Chronic Pain and an Overview of General Harms: A Systematic Review – Annals of Internal Medicine – 2017

Benefits and Harms of Plant-Based Cannabis for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review – Annals of Internal Medicine – 2017

The Ketamine Breakthrough for Suicidal Children – Scientific American – 2017

New Hope for Depression – TIME – 2017

The War on Drugs Halted Research Into the Potential Benefits of Psychedelics – Slate – 2017

Scientists and Silicon Valley want to prove psychoactive drugs are healthy – The Guardian – 2016

End the Ban on Psychoactive Drug Research – Scientific American – 2014

 

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Novel drugs for depression – The Economist

depression

The Economist took a deep plunge into mental health research for depression. The article is extremely interesting as it seems that the scientific community understands depression a bit more than before. Despite the lack of interest from the industry, old drugs like ketamine seem to be very useful in treating that disorder. In order to patent their invention, new drugs with the same benefits as ketamine are being developed by pharmaceuticals companies.

Even if we do not yet have a complete picture, we took a step in the right direction.

Article link

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The opioid pain drug misuse problem solved?

Children's_pain_scale

Today using opioids to treat chronic pain seems quite obvious for a lot of clinicians. This trivialization, beyond the responsibility of both the clinician and the patient, is responsible for the dramatic increase of opioid misuses and overdoses.

An excellent article written by Dr. Daniel Alford in the last issue of NEJM proposed smart solutions. Prescriber education is one of them. It would allow a more specific approach to addressing the opioid-misuse epidemic: benefit-risk assessment of patient’s needs and care individualization. It should be completed with patient close follow-up and monitoring as well as the careful evaluation at each encounter of whether to start, continue, decrease, increase or stop the treatment.

Training should start early in the medical education and students have to be aware of the best practices for that type of prescription. All the options for chronic pain management have to be taught and not only to doctors but to all healthcare providers in order to tackle the lack of awareness and education in the field.

Beyond drugs, other alternatives should be tested and proposed, especially when an opioid-based treatment is stopped. Explanations have to be provided in order to reassure the patient that his/her pain is manageable without this type of drugs.

The whole discussion, and a whole lot of other healthcare themes, are closely linked to the doctor-patient relationship. Trust, collaboration and open discussion are all key in order to have the best outcomes for the patient.

As a conclusion, I would like to invite you to watch the fantastic talk given by Elliot Krane, an expert in chronic pain about how this disease invades the body, what are the treatment options and what’s next.

 

Additional information:

Overdose Death Rates – US National Institute on Drug Abuse

Understanding the Epidemic – US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How drug use changes the brain — and makes relapse all too common – STAT – April 2017

The Painkillers That Could End the Opioid Crisis – MIT Technology Review – August 2016

Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain — Achieving the Right Balance through Education – NEJM – February 2016

Mortality Trends Among Working-Age Whites: The Untold Story – The Commonwealth Fund – January 2016

Trends in Opioid Analgesic Abuse and Mortality in the United States – NEJM – January 2015

When Pain Kills – AARP – September 2015

Opioid Addiction Facts and Figures – ASAM

Assessment & Management of Chronic Pain – Healthcare Guideline – ICSI – November 2013

 

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Connecting Innovators in Life Sciences and Information Technologies – Lift Basel Conference 2015 – Day 2

LiftBadge

As promised, the summary of the 2nd day. I must admit, it is a bit long but all these topics were fascinating and the speakers really stood out from the “crowd” with excellent ideas. If you do not wish to read it all, just have a look at the headlines by scrolling down and skip to the topic that catches your eye.

Surgeons superpowers

Hans Florian Zeilhofer
Engineering the augmented surgeon

With the current trends in demographic development,more than 2 million people in Switzerland will be over 65 in 2050. What does it mean? More surgery as ageing is very often the synonym of diseases.

Surgery is more and more helped by technological tools, especially for complex cases like facial surgery where augmented reality could be really useful. But, technology has to be human centered and it is the moto of Mimedis, a fab lab for surgeons. Together with small interdisciplinary teams, the company focuses on design and manufacture (3D printing) of patient specific bone implants.

The speaker is not only the founder of Mimedis but also the initiator of MedTech Innovation Partners (MTIP), which helps finance innovative medical technologies. MTIP has a clear focus on innovations within health technologies. It offers business building support as well as continuity of funding and its network to accelerate growth.

More on augmented reality in surgery:

Augmented Reality for CMF-Surgery – Basel University

A Look into the Body – Augmented Reality in Computer Aided Surgery – Munich University

Philippe Cattin
Reinventing bone surgery

Nothing has changed fundamentally on how things are cut in surgery. But laser could be extremely helpful, leading to finer and more precise cuts. Plates will need to be smaller and even resorbable.

This technology also makes it be possible to perform functional cuts in order to avoid pain for the patient. It is a complete new thinking about how surgery is executed. No more straight cuts for an improved healing.

Together with enabling technologies, such as navigation and robots holding laser, surgery will be much more efficient with reduced doses of anesthesia and better recovery time.

The surgeon will not be replaced but empowered and the robot will be part of the surgery team.

AOT is dedicated to the development, manufacturing and sales of medical devices for osteotomy pursuing the vision of contact-free bone surgery using laser, robotics and navigation systems to re-invent bone surgery (osteotomy). 3 lasers are built into the system; one of them is a ruler and will measure across the cut. The main product, Carlo, is a robot, currently tested in animal experiments.

More on laser use in surgery:

Laser-cutting of bones replaces sawing – Nominated for the CTI Swiss Medtech Award 2015

Raimund Erdmann
Human-centered design

Innovation strategy coupled with human-centered design will deliver corporate value. Human-centered design is the primary goal of Erdmann Design.

HCD

For human-centered design to produce worthwile results, several and diverse stakeholders are requested to interact and think on how can you help with low tech simple solutions. Stand where problems occurred helps understand better the real context and will generate more relevant solutions.

More on human-centered design:

Usability results through human centered design and early test models – Medical Cluster Meet the Experts 2014

More on Swiss Med Tech Industry:

Swiss Medical Technology Industry 2014

Doctors and patients revisited

Haig A. Peter
Outcome-based healthcare

It is not big data anymore but it is a tsunami of data. Not only text data but pictures, videos, sensor data… and 90% of the data was created in the last 2 years.

How can we use it? What’s in there?

  • Clinical data only represents 10% of data
  • Genomics factors reprsent 30%
  • Exogenous factors represent 60%. What do we mean when we say exogenous factors? It’s the information about lifestyle (diet, sport, smoking,…), behaviors, drug adherence. It is immensely useful when combined with all the other types of information.

Machine vs. Humans?

Humans are the best machine ever because of feelings such as compassion, intuition, design, value, judgement and common sense. No robot or machine is ever capable of such skills. However, machines have huge learning capabilities, especially deep learning (+ machine learning), discovery, large-scale math and fact checking. The last competency is crucial because, as of today, we do not know exactly what’s true on the internet.

The key: Human + Machine – rethink whats possible, what would you do, how could we use it…

Examples:

Memorial Sloan Kettering teams are partnering with IBM to train Watson to interpret cancer patients’ clinical information and identify individualized, evidence-based treatment options that leverage doctors’experience and research. Big data could stimulate the building of knowledge for diseases without current treatment option – what can we do, other medications, which data do we consider,…

Watson will help reduce the time of drug discovery by identifying markers quicker and accelerate the time to market for drug projects.

Welcome to the cognitive era!

More about IBM Watson in healthcare applications:

IBM Watson Health

Watson in Healthcare

IBM pushes Watson into healthcare with new business unit – Barb Darrow – Fortune 2015

Cécile Monteil
The impact of technology on the patient-doctor relationship

Talking with patient was key before, science has now made huge progress. From “medicine is art” to “medicine is a science”. As a result, medicine today is taking the human touch away.

For a patient, talking and having explanations about the results of an exam is as important as undergoing an exam. Technology is here to increase the productivity of tasks but the relationship between the doctor and his patient has to stay and to be developed further. The human part of the process is already key in the healing process.

Technology can connect people. Today, technology allows patients to find information and to empower them. Participation in decision-making about treatment options and pathways is relevant for patients. Moreover, smartphone and connected objects can help track patient symptoms and treatment choices. It is used today for Type 1 Diabetes glucose monitoring.

With connected objects it is easier to monitor body parameters. Furthermore, doctors will be informed of those parameters and will be able to act upon.

The patient has to be at the center of care, beyond simply being part of the loop.

New types of expertise will show up, like medical data scientist, care coordinator, prevention doctor, education nurse,… and whole teams will collaborate in order to take care of the patient for better outcomes.

More about connected health:

Eppocrate

Santé connectée : quelle révolution pour la recherche médicale ? – TEDxUTCompiègne 2015

Patricia Sigam
Digital health – Time for new players
Integrated care – digitalMedLab

Yesterday, the patient-doctor relationship was compassionate, coordinated, comprehensive, continuous, accessible and family-centered. Today, the change is not only technological but also societal.

Patient-centered care is paradigm change, in which patients would like to be considered a they are and not as animals. A whole new ecosystem is emerging and developing itself.

Between a patient and his/her doctor, very often, there is a nurse. Thus, it is more a patient-nurse system or relationship.

But who is the expert?

It is crucial to visit the right expert that will be able to pose the right diagnostic. Provider empowerment (or nurse empowerment in this case) via technology will free time for the doctor while the nurse will do the consultation and collect the data to send them to the doctor. He will then be able to analyze them and act upon.

An interesting example comes from the dietitians of Canada, following obese patients and being their point of contact or new reference to talk to instead of the doctor.

Technology allows patients to stay connected with healthcare professionals following them. In addition, digital technology makes it possible for healthcare professional to be empowered.

Furthermore, caregivers and relatives can use digital technology as well. For example, Alertwatch is a tool giving relatives access to the localization of the loved one on a GPS map. Needless to say that caregivers will have more serenity, increased freedom themselves and improved information on the patient.

Remote support is complementary to human support without replacing it.

More on patient-centered care:

Patient-centered medicine and patient-oriented research: improving health outcomes for individual patients – José A Sacristán – BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2013

Time for a Thorough Evaluation of Patient-Centered Care – Paul A. Heidenreich – Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes 2013

Patient expectations and the paradigm shift of care in emergency medicine – Fatimah Lateef – Journal of Emergencies Trauma and Shock 2011

Global ageing

Alexandra Stolzing
Solving ageing by reprogramming cells

The human metabolism will slowly start to malfunction when we age. This will lead to damage and initiate some age-related pathologies.

The speaker shows us how she works on reprogramming cells.

ReprogrammingCells

Reprogramming is not only reversing aging. It will reboot the cell and it will restart as a fresh cell.

Reversing Ageing

Reprogramming in vivo is the next step. For example in order to repair an infarcted heart.

More on reprogramming cells:

The aging signature: a hallmark of induced pluripotent stem cells? – L. Rohani & al. – Ageing Cell 2013

Aging and reprogramming: a two-way street – S. Mahmoudi – Current Opinion in Cell Biology 2012

Manouchehr Shamsrizi
Gamification for better living

The speaker is the CEO of RetroBrain R&D and trying new approaches promoting people to live healthier. As we all know, it is difficult to incentivize now for long term benefits. The key to have a switch into the behaviors, it to change the way it is percieved: you change your behavior because it is cool and not for long term benefits.

Gamification and videogaming are fundamentally different from the actions you could perform right know. You do not even realize you are changing your own behavior.

How to motivate people? The game is challenging you again and again and when people succeed, they have a dopamine surge. These games influence will stimulate the brain and could delay dementia because of movements, social dimension and brain activity. The game can be personalized with car shapes and music appreciated by the patient.

We should have fun when we are ageing. Interview in German and RetroBrain demo.

More on gamification in health:

Gamification in healthcare isn’t just about playing games – J. Kim – Tech Target Search Health IT 2014

From Fitbit to Fitocracy: The Rise of Health Care Gamification – Knowledge @Wharton 2013

Top Ten Gamified Healthcare Games that will extend your Life – Yu-Kai Chou

Exploring the Potential of Gamification Among Frail Elderly Persons – Gamification Research 2011

Scott Smith
New emerging business models connected to the ageing society

The speaker is the founder of Changeist. For him, it is fundamental to look at the macro picture when it comes to ageing.

He took the interesting example of Paro, a companion cuddle robot. It is a seal puppet therapeutic robot. It has been tested is geriatric facilities to help patients cope with multiple diseases such as dementia.

GreyingWorld

Source

The demographic time bomb challenge is fairly widespread.

Which solutions? Which possibilities?

  • Full automation, robots helping us, freeing time for more leisure
  • Designing our future
  • Human-machine combination – the pairing has to be culturally and socially acceptable
  • Senior Quantified-Self. These technologies will probably transform the way many families care for their loved ones. Estimated market size USD 14.6 bn in 2019.
  • California Life Company – Calico. It will help bring new technologies to the market and promote their adoption for a better management of ageing.

Intervention is easy to develop but the scale up is very difficult mainly for economic reasons.

More on ageing and new business models:

The New Booming Market? Aging Baby Boomers – C. Desmarais – INC 2014

The Economic Conundrum of an Aging Population – WorldWatch Institute 2004

Developing New Business Models in the eALT Sector – Coventry Consumer Models for Assisted Living

Strategic openness in life and data science

Bastian Greshake
Human genome: why sharing is crucial?

We are limited to reading the human genome and making sense of some of the parts today. Genetic testing goes mainstream.

Growth in DTC Genetic Testing

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Sequencing vs genotyping? (definitions from 23andMe)

Genotyping is the process of determining which genetic variants an individual possesses. Genotyping can be performed through a variety of different methods, depending on the variants of interest and resources available. For looking at many different variants at once, especially common variants, genotyping chips or arrays are an efficient and accurate option. These do, however, require prior knowledge of the variants you want to analyze.

Sequencing is a method used to determine the exact sequence of a certain length of DNA. You can sequence a short piece, the whole genome, or parts of the genome (such as the “exome,” which are the parts of the genome that contain genes). Depending on the location, a given stretch may include some DNA that varies between individuals, like SNPs, in addition to regions that are constant. Thus, sequencing can be used to genotype someone for known variants, as well as identify variants that may be unique to that person.

With genotyping, we look at SNP. We can then make some predictions with those data. For example: to see whether I will pass some of these genetic characteristics to my children. It is also widely used for ancestry analysis and microbiome exploration.

Why should this data be open?

Snpedia is sharing genomic data and helps determine whether you have higher risk. Connecting data to others can save lives. Big data is needed in this field.

Dna digest is promoting data sharing because of limited publicly available data despite huge sequenced DNA.

Examples for open data: personal genome project, opensnp, openhumans

More on the human genome:

Website: The Human Genome – Poems on the Book of Life

Tiny Genetic Differences between Humans and Other Primates Pervade the Genome – K. Wong – Scientific American 2014

Genomic data sharing for translational research and diagnostics – P. Robinson – Genome Medicine 2014

Marion Colombani & Paul Willis
Open science to advance drug discovery in neglected diseases

Malaria takes it toll on children as 86% of deaths are noted below age 5. Despite the 47% reduction in death since 2000 thank to an UN initiative focused on trying and improving public health in developing countries, the world still needs medicines to tackle the disease.

The traditional model of drug development in silos, obsessed by profitability and shareholders value is not working for developing countries. A reassessment on how we do drug discovery in this field is necessary.

A new model with a public health focus should be developed, like product development partnership. Interesting projcts are selected and funded. Advisors work in close collaboration with partners and open source science experienced.

OpenSourceScience

Open innovation is the standard model of MMV.

How do they fund their late stage development candidate? They try to find a willing pharma partner or secure sufficient public funding.

Open Access initiative: empowering research.

20’000 drug discovery starting points have been published, MMV selected 400. They are all commercially available.

Another initiative has been launched in order to enrich the drug discovery database: the Malaria Box. Launched in 2011, it has already been supplied to 30 countries for a total of 218 boxes.

A new project: the Pathogen Box, same initiative for neglected diseases to stimulate further research.

There is an ever increasing role of open source in new drug discovery models.

More on open source drug discovery:

Open Source Drug Discovery in Practice: A Case Study – C. Ardal – PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 2012

The Open Source Drug Discovery Project: Need for Global Collaboration – S. Brahmachari – 2015

Gernot Abel
Going open innovation and citizen science in biotech

The speaker sees brand new opportunities for collaborative innovation.

CollaborativeInnovation

How we manage, develop and initiate innovation will shift from traditional to open approaches.

FronTraditionalToOpenInnovation

When you create into a community you not only achieve, you exceed what you achieve.

Hackers want to change something and add a new innovation to existing products. The epicenter is both in US and Europe. Novozymes started recently to collaborate with hackers in an open mode. Biologigaragen is an open space for citizen science in biology. In addition, tools are getting cheaper, easier to use and more powerful.

Examples:

  • Open trons is a USD 3000 full lab available to everyone.
  • Transcriptic is a a fully automated cell and molecular biology laboratory in the cloud.
  • Arcturus BioCloud is a way of sharing biotech experiments.
  • SYNENERGENE is a four-years mobilization and mutual learning action plan (MMLAP) supported by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme.

NewHorizons

Joint value capture is fully present when engaging in open innovation.

For Novozyme, open innovation brings a lot:

  • Low cost analytical technologies
  • Evaluation on given technology and opportunities
  • Insight for business development projects
  • Spot the next big theme in biotech
  • Societal impact and mutual learning cycles

Last but not least – a fantastic lesson on how to engage in open innovation.

OpenInnovationTips

The world’s first true “smart drug” enhances cognition and is deemed safe by health experts

Serendipity or “making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which we were not in quest of” is again one of the best source for innovation in the drug industry.
This is the story of a sleep disorder pill (modafinil or Provigil) that has been deemed the first pure cognitive enhancer.

Why Are We Failing To Fund Mental Health Research?

Insightful post on the reasons of mental health underfunding.

Snackable Science

Everyone is affected by mental illness in some capacity, either directly or through those that we know. Around a quarter of the population experience a mental health condition each year and this high prevalence has considerable repercussions, both socially and economically. Indeed, many would be surprised to hear that on top of obvious human suffering, mental illness is estimated to cost the UK an eye-watering £105 billion a year once healthcare expenses and lost productivity have been taken into account.

With mental illness disrupting the lives of so many and harming the economy to such an extent, I was genuinely surprised to hear of the funding gap that exists in mental health research. Compared to other diseases that place a similar burden on society, publicly funded research into mental health is disproportionately low. Cancer research provides some of the strongest evidence of this effect, receiving around 20% of total UK research expenditure, almost four times more than the amount invested…

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The Integration of Care for Mental Health into Primary Care – American College of Physicians Position Paper

MentalHealthStigma

Integrate mental health into primary care to deliver better outcomes for the patients

A new position paper (subscription required) published by the American College of Physicians is focusing on the integration of mental health care into primary care in order to improve outcomes

Mental health disorders have been estimated to be a major burden by 2020 by WHO.  They are “linked to increased physical illness, higher mortality rates, poorer treatment outcomes and higher healthcare costs”.

Mental health conditions are not always properly diagnosed because of stigma and financial barriers such as insurance coverage gaps. These are the reasons behind the “call for the use of the primary care delivery platform and the related patient-centered medical home model to effectively address these conditions” as stated in the position paper. Health care providers will have to be trained to ask difficult questions, diagnose and treat these diseases.

 

Additional resources

Use data to challenge mental-health stigma – 2015 – Nature

Treat ‘whole person’ by bringing behavioral health into primary care: docs – 2015 – Reuters

The Global Burden of Mental, Neurological and Substance Use Disorders: An Analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 – 2015 – Harvey A. Whiteford

Global Burden of Neurological and Mental Disorders – 2014 – Brain Facts

 

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A first big step toward mapping the human brain – Wired

brain

The human brain has always been a secret black box but it could change…

Understanding the human brain is close to reach a first milestone: DATABASE. “When it’s complete, the database will be the first in the world to collect information from individual cells along four basic but crucial variables: cell shape, gene expression, position in the brain, and electrical activity.” (Wired Article quote)

Several institutions are working to increase the knowledge about our most important organ: Human Brain Project (Europe), BRAIN Initiative (US).

“The big plan is to try to understand how the brain works,” says Lydia Ng, director of technology for the database. “Cell types are one of the building blocks of the brain, and by making a big model of how they’re put together, we can understand all the activity that goes into perceiving something and creating an action based on that perception.” (Wired Article quote)

We are just at the beginning of a fascinating journey in our brain. Up to now, researchers only have been able to have a big picture about the functioning of the cells together. It is still unclear how billions of neurons act together resulting in patterns of behavior and activation.

Wired Article

More on human brain research:

TED Videos on Brain – From brain plasticity to the understanding of consciousnes through the paradox of choice among others… Intriguing topics around the brain!

Brain Basics: Know Your Brain – 2015

Human Brain: Facts, Anatomy & Mapping Project – 2015

Brain & Nervous System Health Center – WebMD – 2014

8 Things We Simply Don’t Understand About the Human Brain – io9

Introduction: The Human Brain – 2006

 

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What if we prescribed video games, and not Ritalin, to treat ADHD? – Medium

gamers

How digital games can inspire and motivate children — and result in better learning outcomes

An extremely interesting article on gaming and its impact on children learning skills will maybe lead to the prescription of game sessions in the treatment of psychological ailments.

We are entering in an emerging field called therapeutic neurogaming.

“It’s built on two basic ideas: First, that the brain is “plastic” for far longer than scientists once believed, so healing can be achieved in schoolchildren of all ages without drugs, through basic neurofeedback therapy. Second, that therapy doesn’t just happen — it requires work and patience and a regular dose of practice.” (Quote from Medium Article)

I’m a strong believer that games will be fully part of our lives and not only part of our hobbies in the near future.

Three years ago I read a book written by Jane McGonigal, an expert in gaming and gamification: Reality is broken. I have only one word: brilliant. She walks you through the gaming universe explaining you all the type of games and how they can be used to improve life, well-being, relationships,… She is about to publish another book in September 2015: SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient–Powered by the Science of Games. I’m really looking forward to it.

It is a real trend we have to count on. The nice fact: it is not a boring trend… it is fun!! and there is probably more to come!!

Medium Article

More on the benefits of gaming:

The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter – 2015 – Greg Toppo

Cognitive Benefits of Playing Video Games – 2015 – Psychology Today

The Benefits of Playing Video Games – 2014 – American Psychologist

The DeanBeat: Neurogaming is a nascent market fueled by brain games and sensors – 2013 – Venture Beat

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World – 2011 – Jane McGonigal + her TED Talk

Gamification to improve our world – 2011 – Yu Kai Chu – TEDxLausanne

Companies or Institutions developing therapeutic neurogaming:

Gazzaley Lab (Neuroracer)

Akili Interactive Lab (Project: EVO)

PlayNice Institute (MindLight)

PuzzleBox (Orbit Helicopter)

Emotiv (EEG for game control)

 

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Obesity as a “Brain Disease”, a Driver for New Therapies – Medscape

obesity

We all know that obesity is an unstoppable epidemic of this century. New analysis of this disease could maybe lead to solutions

Obesity is not only an issue in itself; it drives the emergence of other diseases, like cancer for example. Obesity is a complex multifactorial disease that should actually be viewed as a brain disease, bariatric surgeon Carel Le Roux, MBChB, PhD, of University College Dublin, Ireland, argues.

Saying obesity is a brain disease could allow us to better understand it and help us develop new treatments with this paradigm shift.

External factors (stress, sleep deprivation, depression,…) and internal factors (hormone levels and disruptions) could have their say in obesity. Each individual will have different factors influencing his/her condition as well as different reactions to the treaments prescribed. A personalized approach is crucial in this disease.

Beyond treatment, prevention is equally important. More should be done in collaboration with food producers and agribusinesses.

Medscape Article

More on obesity:

Impact of the Obesity Epidemic on Cancer – 2015 – Annual Review of Médicine (subscription required)

Ending Childhood Obesity – 2015 – WHO

USA – The State of Obesity – 2014 – Trust for America’s Health

 

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Mental Health – Awareness and Care vs. Stigma

DepressionMental Health Awareness is Starting to win over Stigma

During the last week I read several articles on mental health (you can see the list at the bottom of my post). I think that there is something going on, more awareness on how sick or sad people feel and what can we do about it. It has been found by a recent study that if nothing is done, the burden would be unbearable in the coming years.

Marilyn Wedge has wonderful insights in her article. Some of her quotes are revealing the sick and sad truth about our society:

– “The notion of mental health or mental illness is relative to the values of a particular society at a particular time in history. Our hectic society paradoxically frowns on overly active children—even children as young as four or five years old. Our society wants children to be restrained, orderly, and eager to please adults.”

– “There is another aspect of ADHD that worries me. As stimulants have come to be prescribed for ever larger numbers of children, our society’s very perception of childhood has changed. Instead of seeing ADHD-type behaviors as part of the spectrum of normal childhood that most kids eventually grow out of, or as responses to bumps or rough patches in a child’s life, we cluster these behaviors into a discrete (and chronic) “illness” or “mental health condition” with clearly defined boundaries. And we are led to believe that this “illness” is rooted in the child’s genetic makeup and requires treatment with psychiatric medication.”

– “In Prozac Nation, Elizabeth Wurtzel also discusses the one drug/one disease phenomenon. She says that her doctors defined her illness as “depression” because she responded to a specific antidepressant drug, Prozac. The drug defined her disease. Like Kramer, Wurtzel also noticed that a psychiatric drug not only came to define a particular mental disorder, but the drug also expanded that disorder across society. She observed, too, that the process was driven by profits to drug companies. The discovery of a new drug to treat depression resulted in many more patients being diagnosed with depression.”

– “As Wurtzel points out, the process of defining a disease by a drug is illogical and backward. Medicine has traditionally defined diseases by their causes, not by the drugs to which patients with similar symptoms respond. If psychiatry aspires to be scientific, on a par with other branches of medicine, how can it be content with this peculiar practice of delineating the outlines of a disease by a drug treatment?”

In conclusion, we really need to change the perception of our human behaviors: normality doesn’t exist and will never exist. We are all different and we have to accept ourselves with our own personality and identity. Something is changing and I hope that more people will find relief by being accepted as they are (as a starting point!).

 

Out of the shadows – 2015 – The Economist

The ADHD Fallacy: It’s Time To Stop Treating Childhood as a Disease – 2015 – TIME

It’s Time To Stop Using These Phrases When It Comes To Mental Illness – 2015 – Huffington Post

Probiotics May One Day Be Used To Treat Depression – 2015 – Huffington Post

Mental Health and Integration – 2014 – The Economist Intelligence Unit & Janssen

Mental Health Atlas – 2011 – WHO

 

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