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What's The Buzz

Cannabis mouth spray may help kick habit

A cannabis-based mouth spray, prescribed to multiple sclerosis sufferers, could be used to help people quit marijuana, say researchers.

There are no products aimed at easing people off cannabis, the only option being rehabilitation where a cocktail of prescribed drugs is used to counteract withdrawal symptoms.

 But researchers at the University of NSW hope a drug, Sativex, which is a mouth spray and contains two of the main cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant; tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), may help addicts quit.

It was the combination of both that gave Sativex potential, said Jan Copeland, who is leading the world-first study through the university's National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre. “The smoked cannabis available on the market has had almost all the CBD taken out of it, which is almost considered the ‘good’ cannabinoid, while THC is associated with getting stoned,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Professor Copeland as saying.

 The mouth spray, which the university has been authorised to use, would be given in low doses in a monitored environment every six hours, she said. Disrupted sleep, difficulty functioning and anger were common withdrawal symptoms and the main cause of relapse, Professor Copeland said.  

Graphene turned into magnetic material
In a breakthrough research that could prove crucial to the future of electronics, scientists have turned graphene, the world’s thinnest and strongest material magnetic.
 Graphene is a sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a chicken wire structure. In its pristine state, it exhibits no signs of the conventional magnetism usually associated with such materials as iron or nickel.

 Demonstrating its remarkable properties won Manchester researchers the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.

 This latest research led by Dr Irina Grigorieva and Professor Sir Andre Geim (one of the Nobel prize recipients) took nonmagnetic graphene and then either ‘peppered’ it with other nonmagnetic atoms like fluorine or removed some carbon atoms from the chicken wire.

 The empty spaces, called vacancies, and added atoms all turned out to be magnetic, exactly like atoms of, for example, iron.

“It is like minus multiplied by minus gives you plus”, said Dr Grigorieva.
 Professor Geim said: “The observed magnetism is tiny, and even the most magnetized graphene samples would not stick to your fridge.

 “However, it is important to reach clarity in what is possible for graphene and what is not. The area of magnetism in nonmagnetic materials has previously had many false positives.
 “The most likely use of the found phenomenon is in spintronics. Spintronics devices are pervasive, most notably they can be found in computers’ hard disks. They function due to coupling of magnetism and electric current.

 “Adding this new degree of functionality can prove important for potential applications of graphene in electronics”, added Dr Grigorieva.  The result was published in Nature Physics.

Climate change can cause alpine meadows disappear
A new study of changing mountain vegetation has suggested that some alpine meadows could disappear within the next few decades as a result of climate change.

The first ever pan-European study carried out by an international group of researchers revealed that climate change is having a more profound effect on alpine vegetation than expected.

 Led by researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Vienna, biologists from 13 different countries in Europe analysed 867 vegetation samples from 60 different summits sited in all major European mountain systems, first in 2001 and then again just seven years later in 2008.

They found strong indications that, at a continental scale, cold-loving plants traditionally found in alpine regions are being pushed out of many habitats by warm-loving plants.

 “We expected to find a greater number of warm-loving plants at higher altitudes, but we did not expect to find such a significant change in such a short space of time,” said Michael Gottfried from the Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA) programme, which coordinated the study. “Many cold-loving species are literally running out of mountain. In some of the lower mountains in Europe, we could see alpine meadows disappearing and dwarf shrubs taking over within the next few decades,” he warned.  

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