Report of Ecstasy Drug's Great Risks Is Retracted

Jasbird Jasbird#dead-mail-box# at myrealbox.com
Tue Sep 9 02:04:44 EST 2003


: "I'm surprised that senior researchers could make an error like that,"
: says John Henry, a leading UK expert on ecstasy and illegal drugs
: at Imperial College London, UK.
:
: He told New Scientist that the team should have checked their
: startling findings. "They should have known from the general
: background of their work that this was extremely unusual."
	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_

: However, the Johns Hopkins group stands by its claim that
: Ecstasy could have a grave impact on the dopamine system of
: the brain in humans.

Like I said before - they'd already decided what they wanted to find -
it was a self-fulfilling prophesy. Not wonder they weren't surprised
by these results and didn't double check.
	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_	_

<http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994139>

Controversial ecstasy research used wrong drug 
   
18:12 08 September 03 
  
NewScientist.com news service 
  
A controversial research paper suggesting that people taking the
street drug Ecstasy for just one night might later develop Parkinson's
disease has been retracted, after a labelling error was discovered on
bottles used in the study.

George Ricaurte and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University School of
Medicine in Baltimore published their work in Science in September
2002, provoking widespread alarm in the media.

The team found that three consecutive doses of ecstasy, or
methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), given to squirrel monkeys and
baboons caused profound damage to dopamine-producing neurons in their
brains. These are the neurons lost in Parkinson's disease. 

The animals were injected with MDMA at three-hour intervals to mimic
the way humans take the drug at all-night raves. Two of the 10 died
within hours after developing hyperthermia.

But the group has issued a retraction in Science saying they
discovered that all but one of the animals received amphetamines
instead of the intended MDMA. Methamphetamine, also known as speed,
would have been expected to produce these results, they say.

"We're very regretful about what it might have done, not only to our
scientific colleagues, but to the public at large," Una McCann, one of
the team, told the The Baltimore Sun.

Startling findings 

"I'm surprised that senior researchers could make an error like that,"
says John Henry, a leading UK expert on ecstasy and illegal drugs at
Imperial College London, UK.

He told New Scientist that the team should have checked their
startling findings. "They should have known from the general
background of their work that this was extremely unusual."

The team began to suspect a problem when many attempts to replicate
their original findings failed. On investigating their lab records
they found that the MDMA requested was delivered on the same day, by
the same supplier, and in the same amount as a bottle of
methamphetamine.

"When we began to suspect that the two bottles of drug might have
borne incorrect labels, we requested that a sample of the drug in the
bottle bearing '(+)-methamphetamine HCl' be analyzed by various
analytical techniques," they write.

Three independent labs confirmed the bottle contained MDMA, not speed.
The original bottle used by the team for the ecstasy experiments was
empty, but analysis of the frozen brains of two animals that died
during the study revealed they contained a metabolite of amphetamine.

Death rate

The bottles were sourced by the US National Institute of Drug Abuse
(NIDA) in Bethesda and supplied by Research Triangle Institute
International of North Carolina, a spokeswoman for NIDA confirmed.

However, the Johns Hopkins group stands by its claim that Ecstasy
could have a grave impact on the dopamine system of the brain in
humans. Ecstasy is known to have a damaging effect on the serotonin
circuits of the brain - an entirely different nerve circuit - but its
effect on the dopamine system is controversial.

"I wasn't happy with the paper itself because they made the claim, and
it was accepted by referees, that this was relevant to what humans
were doing frequently," says Henry. "It's not relevant at all if one
out of five died," because that death rate is not seen in people
taking ecstasy.

However, Henry adds: "We have to applaud them for at least making a
full and complete retraction." 

Shaoni Bhattacharya




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