Vaughan Bell, Neuroscientist | @vaughanbell
How much can you blame the name of a drug for the stigma attached to its use? According to a study by The Lancet that was tweeted by neuroscientist Vaughan Bell, a lot. The study states that when it comes to psychotropic drugs, it would be better to shift to a neuroscience-based system rather than the current psychotropic naming system. Under the psychotropic naming system, drugs get names like “antipsychotic”, “antidepressant” etc.
“For doctors, a second-generation antipsychotic might sound like a newer, better, more advanced option. For patients who have summoned the courage to seek help for an anxiety disorder, being prescribed an antidepressant might suggest that the doctor wasn’t listening to them and dishes out happy pills to everyone,” the study says. These classifications are significant because people prescribed an “antipsychotic” may feel that their psychiatrist is convinced they have a psychotic disorder, even though they don’t. The study says several of these drugs have many uses and symptoms overlap between several conditions. Under the shift to the neuroscience-based nomenclature system, the aim is to reflect a drug’s pharmacological properties than the conditions they are commonly used to treat.
Speed of snot
Eric Topol, Geneticist | @erictopol
Lydia Bourouiba’s team of scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has spent the past few months forcing people to sneeze. According to an article tweeted by geneticist Eric Topol, Bourouiba, a mathematician and fluid dynamicist, has been recording subjects sneeze in incredibly gross detail with high-speed cameras to understand the physics behind the explosive response. When played in slow motion, the video reveals a violent splattering of saliva and mucus, that break into thousands of droplets forming clouds around the face. The high-speed video allows Bourouiba’s team to measure details about the distance, speed and spread of the saliva, which she says will eventually help the team understand how viruses and diseases are carried from sneezes. It focuses primarily on the size of the droplets released in the sneeze as the “size affects how many microbes a droplet can carry”. The study, she adds, shows how droplets of mucus carried by sneezes can travel across the length of most rooms and can even move upwards into ventilation shafts. The team has been working on using mathematical modelling to create maps showing the contamination risks in the vicinity of infected people, which will enable doctors to create specialised environments for containment of patients carrying specific diseases (like Ebola, SARS, MERS etc).