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Tiny injectable sensor to help monitor blood alcohol levels better than breathalysers

Breathalysers, currently the most common way to estimate blood alcohol levels, are clunky devices that require patient initiation and are <a href=health.gov.au not that accurate.' align='left' /> Tiny injectable sensor to help monitor blood alcohol levels better than breathalysers The new biosensor chip, developed in the US, measures roughly one cubic millimetre in size and can be injected under the skin in interstitial fluid, which surrounds the body’s cells. Breathalysers, currently the most common way to estimate blood alcohol levels, are clunky devices that require patient initiation and are not that accurate.(Getty Images/iStockphoto) Scientists have developed a miniature, ultra-low power injectable biosensor that could be used for continuous, long-term alcohol monitoring. The chip developed by engineers at the University of California San Diego in the US is small enough to be implanted in the body just beneath the surface of the skin. It is powered wirelessly by a wearable device, such as a smartwatch or patch. “A tiny injectable sensor - that can be administered in a clinic without surgery - could make it easier for patients to follow a prescribed course of monitoring for extended periods of time,” said Drew Hall, a professor at the UC San Diego. The researchers designed the chip to consume as little power as possible - 970 nanowatts total, which is roughly one million times less power than a smartphone consumes when making a phone call. Breathalysers, currently the most common way to estimate blood alcohol levels, are clunky devices that require patient initiation and are not that accurate, Hall noted. A blood test is the most accurate method, but it needs to be performed by a trained technician. The new biosensor chip measures roughly one cubic millimetre in size and can be injected under the skin in interstitial fluid - the fluid that surrounds the body’s cells. It contains a sensor that is coated with alcohol oxidase, an enzyme that selectively interacts with alcohol to generate a byproduct that can be electrochemically detected. The electrical signals are transmitted wirelessly to a nearby wearable device such as a smartwatch, which also wirelessly powers the chip. Two additional sensors on the chip measure background signals and pH levels. These get cancelled out to make the alcohol reading more accurate. The researchers designed the chip to consume as little power as possible - 970 nanowatts total, which is roughly one million times less power than a smartphone consumes when making a phone call. “The ultimate goal of this work is to develop a routine, unobtrusive alcohol and drug monitoring device for patients in substance abuse treatment programs,” said Hall.

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Computational model of a macromolecular complex With more than 800 members in the human genome, GPCRs are the largest family of proteins involved in decoding signals as they come into the cell and then adapt the cell’s function in response. NIDA is part of the National Institutes of Health. Computational model of a macromolecular complex Courtesy: NIDA IRP and Dr. Sergi Ferré Manipulating how cells respond to signals is key to developing new medications. Although pharmacologists have studied GPCRs for many years, there is still a debate on how they operate — are they isolated units that randomly collide with each other or are they deliberately coupled together to receive signals? The NIDA scientists conclude that GPCRs form part of very elaborate pre-coupled macromolecular complexes. Simply put, they act as little computing devices that optimally gather and process information coming into the cell, allowing the cells to adapt and change their function. "These findings represent many years of complex and highly nuanced science, following the trail as chemical signals travel through the body at the cellular level," said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. "This remarkable discovery will open new avenues for medication development for addiction, pain and other conditions, offering more precise targets with fewer side effects." "The specific macromolecular complex investigated in this study has therapeutic implications not only for addiction, but also for conditions like pain, Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia," said Dr. Sergi Ferré, who led the team of scientists. "Discovering that these protein interact with other signals in preformed complexes gives us more precise targets for medication development." To unravel the complex journey of the body’s GPCRs, scientists used biophysical tools, including fluorescent biosensors; biochemical tools, such as cell signaling in neuronal cultures; as well as computational models. Navarro et al. Evidence for functional pre-coupled complexes of receptor heteromers and adenylyl cyclase, March 28, 2018, Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03522-3 . About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction.

https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2018/03/study-changes-long-held-concepts-cell-decoding alcohol help number

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U.S. map which illustrates whether states offer opioid replacement therapy Rich and colleagues calculated that only about 2,000 prisoners in the country receive ORT as an ongoing addiction treatment. Regions of the country differed in their provision of ORT during incarceration (see map). About 64 percent of systems in the Northeast, Midwest, and West offered methadone; only 35 percent of southern systems did so. Buprenorphine therapy was common only in the Northeast, where one-third of systems offered it. Overall, 45 percent of systems referred prisoners to methadone treatment upon release, and 29 percent made referrals to buprenorphine providers. Regionally, 78 percent of systems in the Northeast and less than half of those in the Midwest, West, and South recommended methadone programs to released inmates. The Northeast led in referrals of patients to community buprenorphine providers, with 67 percent. The percentages were less than 25 percent in the other regions. The majority of survey respondents, 57 percent, said they considered methadone to be very or somewhat beneficial for inmates with opiate addiction, and 27 percent said they did not know whether it is helpful. When asked about buprenorphine, 41 percent regarded it as useful for prisoners, and 49 percent said they did not know whether it is helpful. Respondents from systems that did not offer ORT or post-release referrals for it gave a variety of reasons. The most common, provided by 57 percent with respect to methadone and 39 percent with respect to buprenorphine, was that the respondent favored detoxification followed by avoidance of all opioids. Some respondents cited problems that might arise from ORT regardless of whether it is beneficial for prisoners. The most frequently mentioned, by about 20 percent of respondents, was the security concern related to the supply of opioids. Other reasons included longstanding institutional policies and—for buprenorphine—cost.

https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2011/07/prison-use-medications-opioid-addiction-remains-low