News In Brief

Chinese Herbal Remedy Found to be Useful

UC Irvine School of Medicine Pharmacology Chair Olivier Civelli, Ph.D., worked with Chinese scientists and other UCI researchers to publish work studying Corydalis yanhusuo, a plant used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine.

“Today the pharmaceutical industry struggles to find new drugs. Yet for centuries people have used herbal remedies to address myriad health conditions, including pain. Our objective was to identify compounds in these herbal remedies that may help us discover new ways to treat health problems,” Civelli said.

His study was published in Current Biology last Thursday. The article titled “A Novel Analgesic Isolated from a Traditional Chinese Medicine,” focuses on a compound called dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB.)

According to the article, researchers found that DHCB has the ability to lessen inflammation, commonly associated with tissue damage, and injury-induced neuropathic pain caused by damage to the nervous system. This discovery may help scientists develop better treatment for those with neuropathic pain, as there currently is no effective treatment for it. Furthermore, researchers have found that continued use of DHCB did not generate tolerance as seen in other conventional pain relievers like morphine.

The research group began studying DHCB after screening 500 compounds from 10 traditional Chinese medicines (known as analgesics) for their pain-relief effects. Though DHCB has been previously studied for its analgesic properties, this is the first study that identified, extracted and tested it.

The plant from which DHCB is extracted from, Corydalis, grows in Japan, Northern China and Siberia. Traditionally, people use its root extract to alleviate a variety of symptoms ranging from abdominal and chest pain to menstrual cramps.

Before developing this compound into a drug, DHCB still needs to be evaluated for toxicity.

Civelli worked with fellow UCI researchers Emiliana Borrelli, M. Julia Garcia-Fuster, Mi Kyeong Kim, Kang-Wu Li, Z. David Luo, Gregory Scott Parks, Benjamin Vo, Lien Wang, Zhiwei Wang and Yan Zhang, as well as researchers from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China and the East China University of Science & Technology.

“We’re excited that this [compound] shows promise as an effective pharmaceutical,” Civelli said. “It also shows a different way to understand the pain mechanism.”


UCI Surgical Team Uses Google Glass

Last summer, Pristine, a developer of Google Glass applications, selected UC Irvine to carry out the trial for its communication software Pristine EyeSight.

The software uses a Google tablet and Google Glass. At UCI Health, for example, this technology allows supervising doctors to monitor resident doctors in operating rooms and throughout the medical center. Essentially, the application streams audio and video feeds from Glasses connected to it.

Dr. Leslie Garson, the supervising anesthesiologist at the UCI Medical Center, explained to the OC Register, “We could be supervising two residents at the same time. The [potential] cost savings to the patients, to the system, is phenomenal.”

There are hopes that besides being able to see and hear what those equipped with Glass experience, EyeSight will also allow the supervising doctor to give instructions to those wearing Glass.

“Google Glass needs a handful of key apps to succeed as a consumer product. We can give healthcare professionals a suite of applications that will show immediate results and improve safety, efficiency and teaching,” co-founder and CEO of Pristine Kyle Samani said, “The Pristine platform provides secure and HIPAA-complaint ways to communicate and enhance patient care.”

This means that the platform has certain administrative, physical and technical safeguards in place to protect medical and personal information from being obtained by the general public.

Glass is Google’s newest wearable computer system priced at $1,500. The device needs constant wireless connectivity for its advanced functions, and its battery only lasts a few hours per full charge.

Dr. Warren Wiechmann, a UCI emergency medical physician and an Apple Distinguished Educator in 2013 that led the UCI School of Medicine’s iPad, stated, “The best sort of adoption of these technologies would maximize a physician’s potential and reach…It will be important over the next few years to go through the right steps and figure out how best to create that value.”


Everyone Susceptible to Memory Loss

Neurobiology and psychology researchers at UC Irvine have found that those with highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM) are just as susceptible as those with basic memory to false memory in a memory-distortion study.

According to the PNAS article, “reconstructive memory mechanisms that produce memory distortions are basic and widespread in humans, and it may be unlikely that anyone is immune.”

The study, published late last year in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on subjects with extraordinarily accurate memory. These people are able to recall extremely specific details about their lives dating back to their childhood. Researchers conducted tests into their susceptibility to the planting of false memories, as compared to people with normal memory.

Researchers reported, “The findings suggest that HSAM individuals reconstruct their memories using associative grouping … and by incorporating post event information.”

Subjects of the study underwent several paradigms that tested susceptibility to false memories, including an associative word-list task and misinformation tasks. HSAM participants showed higher overall false memory when compared to their age and sex-match controls, and equally as likely to report nonexistent footage of a plane crash during one of the tests.

“Finding false memories in a superior-memory group suggests that malleable reconstructive mechanisms may be fundamental to episodic remembering,” researchers concluded in the article’s abstract.

Steven J. Frenda, Aurora K. R. LePort, Elizabeth F. Loftus, James L. McGaugh, Rebecca M. Nichols, Lawrence Patihis, Nicole Petersen and Craig E. L. Stark authored the article.

“The assumption that no one is immune from false memories has important implications in the legal and clinical psychology fields, where contamination of memory has had particularly consequences in the past.”