‘Bath salts’ stimulant highly addictive, La Jolla researchers say
By Lynn Friedmann
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have published one of the first studies of MDPV — an emerging recreational drug — that confirmed its powerful stimulant effects in rats and found evidence that it could be more addictive than methamphetamine.
MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) is derived from cathinone, the active ingredient in a leaf chewed for its stimulant effects throughout northeast Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Synthesized decades ago but never used, cathinone derivatives were rediscovered by underground chemists in the early 2000s. Labeled and sold as “bath salts” or “plant food” allows the drug to skirt laws against marketing them for internal use. Their sale is banned in the United States and many other countries.
Researchers compared MDPV’s stimulant effects to those of methamphetamine by allowing rats to dose themselves intravenously by pressing a lever. In order to quantify the animals’ desire for either of the drugs, an ever-greater number of lever presses was required to obtain subsequent infusions. Rats emitted about 60 lever presses for a dose of meth but up to 600 for MDPV. Some rats would even emit 3,000 lever presses in order to obtain a single MDPV hit.
— Findings appear in the journal Neuropharmacology. News release at http://bit.ly/15fKwbK
Coastal power plant records reveal fish decline
A dramatic drop in a number of key fish species has been documented by researchers tapping into a nontraditional source of information: A 40-year record of the fish captured in cooling water systems at five Southern California coastal power plants.
This unique data set is derived from the tens of millions of cubic meters of water filtered annually at each power plant. Every fish caught by the cooling systems since 1972 has been identified and counted.
The analysis, performed jointly by MBC Applied Environmental Sciences (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, centered on so-called “forage” fishes, small species such as sardines and anchovies that live close to shore and are consumed by larger predatory fish, seabirds and marine mammals. Findings revealed the bulk average of fish from early power plant recordings (1972-1983) declined by 78 percent compared with more recent years (1990-2010).
Ranging from Northern San Diego County to Ventura County, the power plants included the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Huntington Beach Generating Station, Redondo Beach Generating Station, El Segundo Generating Station, and Ormond Beach Generating Station.
— Findings are detailed in the journal Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. News release at http://bit.ly/10Pm41w.
HPWREN aids firefighters in Chariot Fire
The High-Performance Wireless and Research Education Network (HPWREN) has once again showed its usefulness as a public safety asset as firefighters battled the recent Chariot Fire near Mount Laguna.
During the wildfire, more than 10,000 people accessed HPWREN’s camera images and data as the fire spread. Many of those images were used by the news media and viewed by the general public and first responders.
HPWREN is a collaborative Internet-connected cyber-infrastructure for research, education, and public safety. The project supports a wireless data network in San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial counties that includes backbone nodes (typically on mountain tops) to connect often hard-to-reach areas in remote environments.
A UCSD research project originally conceived and funded 13 years ago, HPWREN continues to evolve through a combination of government and industry collaborative efforts. For example, new partner San Diego Gas & Electric recently assisted in connecting 70 fire stations in the most remote parts of the county to the HPWREN network.
— More information at http://bit.ly/189Z4MS.
Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.
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