For as large a role as it plays in modern medicine -- from testing to treatment -- the mechanics of the placebo effect remain a remarkably ill-understood mystery. A team of researchers at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School may have just had a break in the case, though. According to a study published in the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers have identified the first ever genetic difference between patients who respond to placeboes and patients who don't. Finding a genetic marker for the placebo effect might impact how some diseases are treated, but its real value could be in revolutionizing the way clinical trials are conducted and new drugs are approved for use.
If you've ever watched CSI or a comparable detective or crime scene show, you know that fingerprints are the holy grail of everything, can be picked up as partials off of thin-air, are always found in AFIS and belong to a person of interest. You probably also know that most of that is just Hollywood magic, but thanks to new, real-life technology from Paul Yates and his colleagues at Intelligent Fingerprinting, fingerprints can now be used for drug testing. What's more, the results are available in a matter of minutes.
As it turns out, if you are on drugs, you sweat out evidence in your fingerprints. Granted, you won't be sweating out the actual drugs, but rather unique, broken-down by-products. The exact amounts are minuscule, but with this technology, that information can be used to determine if the finger's owner has been using or is currently under the influence of drugs like nicotine, cannabis, cocaine and even methadone.