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About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
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April 17, 2007

April 11, 2007

The End of Abuse - Recognizing Addiction as a Disease Act of 2007

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Posted by Zack Lynch

A bill is winding its way through Congress which seeks to remove the term "abuse" from the name of two NIH institutes. The goal is to attribute addiction as a disease and not as abuse. The two institutes would be renamed as follows:

1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) would be renamed National Institute on Disease of Addiction (NIDA)
2. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism would be renamed National Institute on Alcohol Disorders and Health (NIADH)

Senator Joe Biden's bill (S1011) has a Findings section which is very helpful in reframing the perspective about addictions:

S1011: SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain's structure and manner in which it functions. These brain changes can be long lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs. The disease of addiction affects both brain and behavior, and scientists have identified many of the biological and environmental factors that contribute to the development and progression of the disease.

(2) The pejorative term `abuse' used in connection with diseases of addiction has the adverse effect of increasing social stigma and personal shame, both of which are so often barriers to an individual's decision to seek treatment.

mediaheader1.jpg Senator Joe Biden's bill (S1011) was introduced on 3/28 with Kennedy and Enzi. It is a companion bill to Patrick Kennedy's (HR1348), which was introduced on March 3 with Rep. Sullivan (R-OK) as the co-sponsor. The name of S1011 is "Recognizing Addiction as a Disease Act of 2007" and HR1348 is `NIDA and NIAAA Name Redesignation Act'.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NIO

April 6, 2007

Optical Brain Prosthetics

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Edward_Boyden.jpgScientists at the MIT Media Lab have invented a way to reversibly silence brain cells using pulses of yellow light, offering the prospect of controlling the haywire neuron activity that occurs in diseases such as epilepsy and Parkinson's. Such diseases often must be treated by removing neurons that fire incorrectly. The new MIT research could lead to the development of optical brain prosthetics to control neurons, eliminating the need for surgery. "In the future, controlling the activity patterns of neurons may enable very specific treatments for neurological and psychiatric diseases, with few or no side effects," said Edward Boyden, assistant professor in the Program in Media Arts and Sciences and leader of the Media Lab's new Neuroengineering and Neuromedia Group. As usual, Emily Singer at Tech Review covers this development.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurodevices

April 2, 2007

Neurotech Execs Tap Political Leaders in Washington DC

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Posted by Zack Lynch

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Last Thursday, the Neurotechnology Industry Organization met with dozens of elected officials and policy makers in Washington DC to discuss the opportunities and obstacles facing companies and organizations working to improve the lives of those with brain and nervous system illnesses.

A key topic of discussion with elected Senators and Representatives was the group’s National Neurotechnology Initiative (NNTI), a proposed Federal research and development program designed to coordinate balanced and focused strategic investment across multiple agencies to accelerate development of vitally important areas of the field.

During NIO’s Public Policy Tour, executives from some twenty neurotechnology companies and organizations met with political leaders including directors from the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration to discuss the role their offices can play in improving fundamental brain-related research and bringing new treatments for nervous system illnesses more quickly to those in need.

Neurotechnology leaders taking part in NIO’s Public Policy Tour included Accera, Inc, Acumen Pharmaceuticals, Adlyfe, Afferent Corporation, Boston Life Sciences, Brain Resource Company, Concentric Medical, Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems, Medical Device Network of Australia, NeuroScience Associates, Neurotech Network, NeuroVentures Capital, Posit Science, RemeGenix, Sound Pharmaceuticals, StemCells, Inc., Targacept, and The MIND Institute.

Elected officials met with included Rep. Brian Baird, Rep. Joe Barton, Sen. Bob Bennett, Sen. Benjamin Cardin, Rep. Steve Chabot, Sen. Pete Domenici, Sen. Byron Dorgan, Rep. John Duncan, Sen. Mike Enzie, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Bart Gordon, Rep. Jay Inslee, Sen. Edward Kennedy, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Herb Kohl, Sen. Trent Lott, and Rep. Todd Tiahrt.

In short, NIO's first Public Policy Tour in Washington DC was an outstanding success with significant support emerging for the National Neurotechnology Initiative.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NIO