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Curiosity 16: #Drugs

Curiosity, December 2023: In this issue we highlight the diversity, scope, and multi-dimensional nature of drug-related research at Wits University. We delve into advances in HIV drugs and the economic potential of cannabis respectively. We reveal innovations in drug delivery, drug adherence, psychedelic therapeutics, and what horses have to do with snake venom, and birth control with mosquitoes. We explore alternatives to traditional cancer treatments, consider antibiotics and their corollary antimicrobial resistance, and how plants could mitigate this World Health Organization-identified threat. We also interrogate the dark side of drugs in research about addiction, doping in sport, and how those legal but lethal drugs – alcohol and cigarettes – permeate our lives as do ‘fixes’ in food and the modern proclivity to ‘pop pills’ for obesity or for nutritional supplementation. #WitsForGood #ResearchForGood #InnovationForGood

In this issue:

  • Leading the way to an HIV cure (page 8): The battle to save millions of HIV-positive lives bears fruit in unexpected ways.
  • Obesity: A new treatment frontier (page 12): Current treatments are complex and expensive but new studies reveal that obesity medication could be the answer to this epidemic.
  • The daily drugs in our diet (page 18): Aggressively marketed, promoted by influencers, and glamourised in the media, regular and accessible stimulants like caffeine, nicotine and ultra-processed foods are far from benign.
  • Inside the mushroom bubble (page 20): Are psychedelic substances the magic bullet they claimed to be for the treatment of conditions such as depression and post-traumatic disorder?
  • Turning green grass into gold (page 28): Academia holds a uniquely advantageous position to show what a thriving sector the cannabis industry could be for the country.
  • Blocking the opioid pipeline (page 36): Treating opioid addiction is a painful, time consuming and often frustrating process. New medication can help solve this problem.