Aging could be easier to manage with AI

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An amazing Quartz article talks about AI and robotic usage for elderly.

It is a must-read for people not ready to hear that we plan to use robotics instead of real people to interact with elderly in specific conditions. You will read the opinion of a doctor mentioning its use of Paro to calm the anxiety of Alzheimer’s disease patients instead of giving them sedatives.

People concerned about the harm a relationship with Paro might do to a person with dementia do not understand the gravity of the disease, Petersen says. “You come to a point in dementia where you can’t trust yourself,” she says. “It’s like being dropped in another country where you don’t speak the language, you don’t know what time of day it is. It’s terribly, terribly fear-producing. These people live in a constant state of fear because they can’t figure out what to do next. They know something’s wrong but they can’t figure out what it is. And it never ends for them. I don’t think people realize how horrific it is.”

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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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