Activating Vitamin B12 in Humans

By: Harsha Gouda

Edited by: Emily Glass, Lisa Pinatti, and Sarah Kearns

 

Vitamins are the essential micronutrients required in tiny amounts for the healthy development of an individual. They play a crucial role by initiating various chemical reactions inside the cells like production of pigment that is responsible for your vision or synthesis of red blood cells that carry oxygen in your blood. Early discovery of the importance of vitamins such as B12 in diet was identified in patients suffering from abnormally large red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is one of the most complex chemical molecules among all the other essential vitamins. Owing to its complexity, this precious and rare vitamin is mainly acquired via diet as humans are unable to synthesize it for ourselves. Low dietary B12 intake or defects in the transport pathway to its target place of utilization inside our body result in heart and nerve related disorders in humans.1 As such, evolution developed a very sophisticated trafficking pathway to transport and deliver B12 from the food we eat to the cells that use it.1

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Curbing Addiction: Buprenorphine and the Opioid Epidemic

Author: Ruiqi Tang

Edited by: William Dean, Sophie Hill, and Noah Steinfeld

 

Less than 35% of the 2.3 million people with opioid misuse in the United States receive treatment. Opioids are a class of drugs that mask pain by interacting with opioid receptors in the brain, producing pleasurable sensations. These “euphoric” feelings can lead to addiction when patients begin taking opioids for non-medical use. Despite the growing crises of opioid addiction, there is a dire shortage of physicians approved to prescribe a medication approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for treating opioid addiction: buprenorphine. Buprenorphine works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, but unlike opioids, its sedating effects are relatively lower and it is frequently co-formulated with another drug (naloxone) to prevent overdose. Despite its safety advantages in suppressing withdrawal symptoms, physicians must undergo additional training to obtain a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)-issued waiver in order to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid addiction–a restriction that does not exist for opioid medications like oxycodone that have a greater risk of adverse outcomes.

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