Removing ‘Zombie’ Cells Deters Alzheimer’s in Mice

Eliminating dead-but-toxic cells occurring naturally in the brains of mice designed to mimic Alzheimer’s slowed neuron damage and memory loss associated with the disease, according to a study published Wednesday that could open a new front in the fight against dementia.

The accumulation in the body of “zombie cells” that can no longer divide but still cause harm to other healthy cells, a process called senescence, is common to all mammals.

Scientists have long known that these dead-beat cells gather in regions of the brain linked to old age diseases ranging from osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis to Parkinson’s and dementia.

Prior research had also shown that the elimination of senescent cells in ageing mice extended their healthy lifespan.

But the new results, published in Nature, are the first to demonstrate a cause-and-effect link with a specific disease, Alzheimer’s, the scientists said.

But any treatments that might emerge from the research are many years down the road, they cautioned.

In experiments, a team led by Tyler Bussian of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota used mice genetically modified to produce the destructive, cobweb-like tangles of tau protein that form in the neurons of Alzheimer’s patients.

The mice were also programmed to allow for the elimination of “zombie” cells in the same region.

“When senescent cells were removed, we found that the diseased animals retained the ability to form memories, and eliminated signs of inflammation,” said senior author Darren Baker, also from the Mayo Clinic.

The mice likewise failed to develop Alzheimer’s signature protein “tangles”, and retained normal brain mass.

Keeping zombies at bay

A closer look revealed that the “zombies” belonged to a class of cells in the brain and spinal cord, called glia, that provide crucial support and insulation to neurons.

“Preventing the build-up of senescent glia can block the cognitive decline and neuro-degeneration normally experienced by these mice,” Jay Penney and Li-Huei Tsai, both from MIT, wrote in a comment, also in Nature.

Bussian and his team duplicated the results with pharmaceuticals, suggesting that drugs could one day slow or block the emergence of Alzheimer’s by keeping these zombie cells at bay.

“There hasn’t been a new dementia drug in 15 years, so it’s exciting to see the results of this promising study in mice,” said James Pickett, head of research at Alzheimer’s Society in London.

For Lawrence Rajendran, deputy director of the Dementia Research Institute at King’s College London, the findings “open up new vistas for both diagnosis and therapy for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.”

Up to now, dementia research has been mostly focused on the diseased neurons rather than their neighboring cells.

“It is increasingly becoming clear that other brains cells play a defining role,” Rajendran added.

Several barriers remain before the breakthrough can be translated into a “safe, effective treatment in people,” Pickett and other said.

The elderly often have lots of harmless brain cells that look like the dangerous senescent cells a drug would target, so the molecule would have to be good at telling the two apart.

Worldwide, about seven percent of people over 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia, a percentage that rises to 40 percent above the age of 85.

The number afflicted is expected to triple by 2050 to 152 million, according to the World Health Organization, posing a huge challenge to healthcare systems.

 

 

 


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Zimbabwe Government Pledges Funds to Fight Cholera Outbreak in Harare

Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, says his government will assist municipalities struggling to fight a cholera outbreak that has killed 32 people and affected more than 3,000 during the past three weeks.

After visiting the epicenter of the cholera outbreak in Harare, President Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed to help the Harare City Council with financial assistance and called on the corporate world to donate toward fighting the epidemic.

“We are raising money, which has been coming in daily, so that we fix the burst pipes at Morton Jeffery Waterworks and the Central Business District, as well as the suburbs… we have been told that most of these pipes are old and are bursting at any given time, so we have found some well-wishers who are helping us. We will continue to support the Harare City Council In its programs meant to sanitize Harare, because the council does not have enough powers to be doing all the work alone,” he said.

Nearby, David Shonhiwa, a vendor in Glen View, the suburban epicenter of Harare’s cholera epidemic, says there have been improvements in the area’s hygiene since cholera was detected, but more are needed.

“The situation is better now. We have been receiving clean water and we got buckets, but it has not been possible for everyone to get something because there are difficulties which others have been encountering,” he said.

Tuesday, a U.N. spokesperson in Zimbabwe, Sirak Gebrehiwot, said a U.N. emergency response fund may be activated as the cholera outbreak spreads to other parts of the country.

“In light of the appeal announced by the government of Zimbabwe to respond to the cholera, the U.N. has scaled up its support,” said Gebrehiwot. “The regional office of the U.N. Humanitarian Affairs has already deployed three U.N. emergency humanitarian specialists in the ongoing response. This is in addition to our colleagues from UNICEF and the WHO, are already engaged on the ground in this emergency response.”

In 2008 and 2009, a cholera epidemic killed nearly 5,000 people. It only stopped after international organizations such as USAID, Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross and U.N. agencies including UNICEF and the World Health Organization provided medicine and water treatment chemicals.

 


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DNA Tests Identify Ivory Smuggling Cartels

Researchers are using genetic analysis to connect the dots in the illegal ivory trade, linking multiple seizures of the valuable tusks to a common set of traffickers.

Targeting these ivory-smuggling cartels could have a major impact on the elephant poaching that is driving the animals to extinction, according to the authors of a new study.

The findings mean some suspects already facing charges from single arrests could face additional charges and stiffer penalties if convicted.

Ivory trafficking is a multibillion dollar transnational criminal enterprise with links to other illegal activities, including drug trafficking. Poaching claims an estimated 40,000 elephants each year.

Missing tusks

University of Washington biologist Samuel Wasser and colleagues have been analyzing tusks seized in ivory busts to track where poached elephants came from.  They previously identified hotspots in Tanzania and Mozambique from where nearly all the ivory seized between 2006 and 2014 came.

The new findings emerged from the case of the missing tusks.

Wasser and colleagues noticed that when ivory shipments were confiscated, they often only contained one of an elephant’s pair of tusks.

When they searched through genetic data taken from large-scale ivory busts between 2006 and 2015, they found 26 cases in which a tusk from one seizure matched one from a separate shipment.

In each case, the two shipments passed through the same port within a few months of each other.  Wasser said that “suggest[s] that the same major trafficking cartel was actually responsible for shipping both.”

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, traces the ivory back to three major cartels based in Lome, Togo; Mombasa, Kenya; and Entebbe, Uganda.

When traffickers are caught, they typically only face charges for one shipment.

The methods Wasser’s group developed can link individual cartels to multiple shipments, and to each other.

For example, a key figure in the Uganda cartel currently is awaiting trial for one seizure. The new study links him to two others. One of those includes tusks from a 2012 incident in which poachers in a Ugandan helicopter shot 22 elephants across the border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“You can imagine, if this evidence is used, how much stronger a case we can build against him,” Wasser said.

International links found

The new study also finds links between the Togo and Kenyan cartels.  East African and West African tusks were found in a shipment seized in Malaysia.  Ivory from this shipment matched tusks from separate seizures linked to Lome and Mombasa.

East African drug-smuggling suspects facing charges in the United States have been linked to the Kenyan ivory trafficking ring.

“The stories that emerge (from the research) are fascinating and important,” said CEO Frank Pope of the nonprofit Save the Elephants.  “Wasser’s work is helping us to close in on those networks by telling the story of the connections between the different shipments.”

Wasser’s methods have already helped investigators disrupt international trafficking operations, according to Special Agent John Brown with the Department of Homeland Security Investigations.

But Brown notes that few countries are complying with a directive to send samples from ivory busts for DNA analysis. That makes it harder for law enforcement to get to the root of the problem, he added.

“A seizure of three tons of ivory looks very good on the front page of the local newspaper,” Brown said.  “But if we don’t attack the transnational criminal organizations behind it, then the problem will continue.”

 


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Taking Back Carbon ‘Imperative’ to Stop Planet Overheating, Backers Say

With climate-changing emissions still inching higher — and resulting threats from extreme weather surging — sucking greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere must become an urgent priority, backers of “carbon removal” efforts say.

“The math is quite simple,” Manish Bapna, executive vice president of the Washington-based World Resources Institute, told a panel discussion on the fledgling approach this week.

If the world overshoots the temperature goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, as looks increasingly likely, “carbon removal gets us back on track,” he said.

“The first imperative is to reduce emissions as quickly and deeply as possible,” Bapna said. “But there is now a second imperative… to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a large scale.”

Proposals to suck carbon out of the atmosphere range from planting many more trees, which absorb carbon dioxide to grow, to installing devices that capture carbon directly from the air.

Changing farming practices to store more carbon in soils, or producing energy by growing trees or crops, burning them and pumping underground the carbon released also could play a role, scientists say.

Interest in carbon removal technologies is growing, not least because countries from Britain to the United States have included some of them in their plans to curb climate change.

They also feature in a report, due out next month, by the world’s leading climate scientists, who say governments may have to find ways to extract vast amounts of carbon from the air if warming overshoots the lower Paris pact limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit). That overshoot is expected to happen by about 2040, according to a draft copy of the report.

“Carbon removal is really about creating options,” said Kelly Levin, a senior associate at the World Resources Institute. “If you fast forward 20 or 30 years, we want to keep options open.”

Growing urgency

The surging scale of losses to extreme weather — including the storms that smashed into the eastern United States and the Philippines this month — means more people now believe climate change needs to be curbed, said Klaus Lackner, director of the U.S.-based Center for Negative Carbon Emissions.

“I believe we are at a turning point where people are starting to see the problem needs to be solved,” said Lackner, a proponent of technology to capture carbon from the air.

Right now, the costs of carbon removal may be too high but as climate impacts worsen “eventually it will hurt, and then we will pay whatever it takes,” he predicted.

“Show me technologies that didn’t get six times cheaper in a decade when they were actually used,” he added.

Carbon removal faces many other challenges including low government spending, competition for land, and a need to move faster than finance and technology may allow, experts admitted.

For instance, capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air, while possible, also requires a lot of energy, said James Mulligan, a World Resources Institute researcher on carbon removal.

Capturing just 15 percent of U.S. annual emissions would use 7 percent of projected U.S. energy production in 2050, he said.

Avoiding the worst

Farming differently to store more carbon in soils, by comparison, could be cheaper and provide extra benefits, boosting harvests, water conservation and wildlife habitats, said Betsy Taylor, president of consulting firm Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions.

“This pathway is the most affordable, technologically ready and it is a no-regrets option,” particularly as about a third of the world’s soils are now considered degraded, she said.

Experimenting with carbon removal deserves “a newfound sense of urgency” not least because more intrusive “geoengineering” ideas, such as blocking some of the sun’s rays from reaching the planet, are “coming down the pike,” she said.

But getting millions of farmers and ranchers to alter how they work would require significant investment — and monitoring carbon reductions from soil use remains an inexact science, experts admitted.

Most carbon removal technologies would get the world only a fraction of the way to solving its climate problem, they said — and the prospect of having the technologies available might be seized as an excuse to stall action to cut emissions.

“We need to be clear-eyed about the challenges,” Mulligan said.

The key, said Levin of the World Resources Institute, is ensuring both emissions cuts and carbon removal efforts move ahead fast enough to ward off the worst anticipated impacts of climate change, from worsening hunger to extreme heatwaves.

“If you look at the science, we have to pull out all the stops on mitigation and carbon removal at a scale that is completely unprecedented,” she said.

 


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Uncontacted Tribes at Risk Amid ‘Worrying’ Surge in Amazon Deforestation

Illegal loggers and militias cleared an area three times the size of Gibraltar in Brazil’s Amazon this year, threatening an “uncontacted” indigenous tribe, activists said on Tuesday.

Satellite imagery collected by Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), a Brazilian advocacy group, detected about 4,600 acres (1,863 hectares) of deforestation this year in the Ituna Itata indigenous land in northern Para state.

“This situation is very worrying,” Juan Doblas, senior geo-processing analyst at ISA, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“There is a series of risks, not only to indigenous territories of uncontacted tribes, but also to other indigenous territories in the area.”

The indigenous affairs agency Funai and the federal police were not immediately available to comment. The environmental protection agency Ibama said in a statement that official data on Amazon deforestation will be released in November.

Brazil’s uncontacted tribes, some of the last on earth, depend on large areas of unspoiled forest land to hunt animals and gather the food they need to survive.

They are particularly vulnerable when their land rights are threatened because they lack the natural immunity to diseases that are carried by outsiders, rights groups say.

Forest loss in Ituna Itata — from which outsiders were banned in 2011 to protect the uncontacted tribe — spiked to about 2,000 acres in August from 7 acres in May, said ISA, which has monitored the area through satellites since January.

South America’s largest country is grappling with scores of deadly land conflicts, illustrating the tensions between preserving indigenous culture and economic development.

ISA filed a complaint in April to federal and state authorities about forest destruction and illegal logging in the area during the rainy season, which is unusual, said Doblas.

“It was a sign that something very serious was going to happen,” he said. “It was a preparation for the invasion.”

The environmental protection agency Ibama responded by sending in patrols in May, which temporarily halted the logging, he said, adding that ISA plans to file another complaint this week, using updated data and satellite images.


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Somali Girls’ Deaths Spur More Calls to End FGM

A spate of deaths of young girls from female genital mutilation (FGM) has renewed calls for Somalia to outlaw the tradition.

Four girls, ages 10 and 11, from central and northern Somalia have died in the last three months after having been cut, and seven others are in hospitals, activists said.

“More and more cases of girls who have died or end up seriously injured after FGM are coming out,” said Hawa Aden Mohamed, director of the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development, a local women’s group in the east African country.

“These cases confirm what we have been saying all along — that FGM kills and that we need a law to stop it,” Mohamed said. “The harm it causes is blatantly clear.”

An estimated 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM, which involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia, the United Nations says.

One of 28 African countries where the tradition is endemic, Somalia has the world’s highest rates of FGM — 98 percent of women between 15 and 49 have undergone the ritual.

Somalia’s constitution prohibits FGM, but efforts to pass legislation to punish offenders have been stalled by parliamentarians afraid of losing voters who view FGM as a part of their tradition.

Government and hospital officials were not immediately available to comment on the deaths or hospital admissions.

The charity Save the Children said it rescued seven girls — aged between 5 and 8 years old — on Sunday from Somalia’s northern Puntland state. The girls had undergone FGM and were bleeding excessively; they are now receiving hospital treatment.

“I’m afraid that this is just the tip of the iceberg as many more cases go unreported,” said Timothy Bishop, country director of Save the Children in Somalia.

Campaigners said Suheyra Qorane Farah, 10, from Puntland died Sunday after contracting tetanus, having undergone FGM on Aug. 29.

Two sisters, Aasiyo and Khadijo Farah Abdi Warsame, age 10 and 11, from the same region bled to death Sept. 11 after visiting a cutter across the border in neighboring Ethiopia.

The death of Deeqa Nuur, 10, in July from severe bleeding following FGM prompted the attorney general to initiate Somalia’s first prosecution against FGM — using existing laws — but the investigation has faced challenges.

Flavia Mwangovya, End Harmful Practices program manager at Equality Now, said an anti-FGM law would curb the practice.

“A specific law can express punishments and specify stiffer penalties, ensure that all accomplices are held accountable, and gives guidance on the kind of evidence needed to prove the crime,” she said.


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EU Investigates German Carmakers for Possible Collusion

European Union regulators have opened an in-depth investigation into whether automakers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen colluded to limit the development and roll-out of car emission control systems.

The EU Commission said Tuesday that it had received information that BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, and VW units Audi and Porsche held meetings to discuss clean technologies aimed at limiting car exhaust emissions.

 

The probe focuses on whether the automakers agreed not to compete against each other in developing and introducing technology to restrict pollution from gasoline and diesel passenger cars.

 

“If proven, this collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers,” said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

 

The Commission said its probe was focused on diesel emission control systems involving the injection of urea solution into exhaust to remove harmful nitrogen oxides. The probe follows a report in Der Spiegel magazine last year that the automakers had agreed to limit the size of the tanks holding the urea solution.

 

The case is another source of diesel trouble for German automakers in the wake of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal.

 

The Commission said, however, there was no evidence the companies had colluded to develop so-called defeat devices _ computer software that illegally turns off emissions controls. Volkswagen in 2015 admitted using such devices and has set aside 27.4 billion euros ($32 billion) for fines, settlements, recalls and buybacks. Former CEO Martin Winterkorn was criminally charged by U.S. authorities but cannot be extradited; Audi division head Rupert Stadler has been jailed while prosecutors investigate possible wrongdoing.

 

The automakers said they were not able to comment on details of the case but pointed out in statements that opening a probe does not necessarily mean a violation will be found. Daimler and Volkswagen said they were cooperating with the probe; BMW said that it “has supported the EU commission in its work and will continue to do so.”

 

Daimler noted that the probe only applied to Europe and did not involve allegations of price-fixing. BMW said it supported the Commission in its work from the start of the investigation and would continue to do so. “The presumption of innocence continues to apply until the investigations have been fully completed,” Volkswagen said in a statement.

 

After the Volkswagen scandal broke, renewed scrutiny of diesel emissions showed that cars from other automakers also showed higher diesel emissions in everyday driving than during testing, thanks in part to regulatory loopholes that let automakers turn down the emissions controls to avoid engine damage under certain conditions. The EU subsequently tightened its testing procedures to reflect real-world driving conditions for cars being approved for sale now. Environmental groups are pushing in court actions to ban older diesel cars in German cities with high pollution levels.

 

The Commission probe also is looking at possible collusion over particulate filters for cars with gasoline engines.

 

The Commission said that it did not see a need to look into other areas of cooperation among the so-called “Circle of Five” automakers such as quality and safety testing, the speed at which convertible roofs could open and at which cruise control would work. It said anti-trust rules leave room for technical cooperation aimed at improving product quality.

 

Anti-trust fines can be steep. In 2016 and 2017 the Commission imposed a fine of 3.8 billion euros after it found that six truck makers had colluded on pricing, the timing of introduction of emissions technologies and the passing on of costs for emissions compliance to customers. Truck maker MAN, part of Volkswagen, was not fined because it blew the whistle on the cartel. The others were Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco, DAF and Scania, also owned by Volkswagen.


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GOP, Dems Unite Behind Senate Bill Fighting Addictive Drugs

Republicans and Democrats joined forces to speed legislation combating the misuse of opioids and other addictive drugs toward Senate passage Monday, a rare campaign-season show of unity against a growing and deadly health care crisis. 

The measure takes wide aim at the problem, including increasing scrutiny of arriving international mail that may include illegal drugs and making it easier for the National Institutes of Health to approve research on finding nonaddictive painkillers and for pharmaceutical companies to conduct that research. The Food and Drug Administration would be allowed to require drug makers to package smaller quantities of drugs like opioids and there would be new federal grants for treatment centers, training emergency workers and research on prevention methods.

Lawmakers’ focus on combating opioids comes amid alarming increases in drug overdose deaths, with the government estimating more than 72,000 of them last year. That figure has grown annually and is double the 36,000 who died in 2008.

Besides the sheer numbers, Congress has been drawn to the problem because of its broad impact on Republican, Democratic and swing states alike.

California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania each had more than 4,000 people die from drug overdoses in 2016, while seven other states each lost more than 2,000 people from drugs, according to the most recent figures available. The states with the highest death rates per resident include West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire, along with the District of Columbia.

West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin and Florida’s Sen. Bill Nelson, both Democrats, are among those facing competitive re-election races in November’s midterm elections. Republicans are trying to deflect a Democratic effort to capture Senate control. 

Money for much of the federal spending the legislation envisions would have to be provided in separate spending bills.

The House approved its own drug misuse legislation this summer. Congressional leaders hope the two chambers will produce compromise legislation and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature by year’s end.


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SpaceX’s First Private Passenger is Japanese Fashion Magnate Maezawa

SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space transportation company, on Monday named its first private passenger as Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa, the founder and chief executive of online fashion retailer Zozo.

A former drummer in a punk band, billionaire Maezawa will take a trip around the moon planned for 2023 aboard its forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, taking the race to commercialize space travel to new heights.

The first person to travel to the moon since the United States’ Apollo missions ended in 1972, Maezawa’s identity was revealed at an event on Monday evening at the company’s headquarters and rocket factory in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne.

Maezawa, who is most famous outside Japan for his record-breaking $110 million purchase of an untitled 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, said he would invite six to eight artists to join him on the lunar orbit mission.

The billionaire chief executive of electric car maker Tesla, Musk revealed more details of the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, the super heavy-lift launch vehicle that he promises will shuttle passengers to the moon and eventually fly humans and cargo to Mars. The BFR could be conducting its first orbital flights in about two to three years, he said.

Musk had previously said he wanted the rocket to be ready for an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022, with a crewed flight in 2024, though his ambitious production targets have been known to slip.

“Its not 100 percent certain we can bring this to flight,” Musk said of the lunar mission.

The amount Maezawa is paying for the trip was not disclosed, however, Musk said the businessman outlaid a significant deposit and will have a material impact on the cost of developing the BFR.

The 42-year-old Maezawa is one of Japan’s most colorful executives and is a regular fixture in the country’s gossipy weeklies with his collection of foreign and Japanese art, fast cars and celebrity girlfriend.

Maezawa made his fortune by founding the wildly popular shopping site Zozotown. His company Zozo, officially called Start Today Co Ltd, also offers a made-to-measure service using a polka dot bodysuit, the Zozosuit.

With SpaceX, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic battling it out to launch private-sector spacecraft, Maezawa will join a growing list of celebrities and the ultra-rich who have secured seats on flights offered on the under-development vessels.

Those who have signed up to fly on Virgin Galactic sub-orbital missions include actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Justin Bieber. A 90-minute flight costs $250,000.

Short sightseeing trips to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket are likely to cost around $200,000 to $300,000, at least to start, Reuters reported in July.

SpaceX has already upended the space industry with its relatively low-cost reusable Falcon 9 rockets. The company has completed more than 50 successful Falcon launches and snagged billions of dollars’ worth of contracts, including deals with NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense.

SpaceX in February transfixed a global audience with the successful test launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world.


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Survey: 2 Million US Teens Vaping Marijuana

A school-based survey shows nearly 1 in 11 U.S. students have used marijuana in electronic cigarettes, heightening health concerns about the new popularity of vaping among teens.

E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine, but many of the battery-powered devices can vaporize other substances, including marijuana. Results published Monday mean 2.1 million middle and high school students have used them to get high.

Vaping is generally considered less dangerous than smoking, because burning tobacco or marijuana generates chemicals that are harmful to lungs. But there is little research on e-cigarettes’ long-term effects, including whether they help smokers quit. 

The rise in teenagers using e-cigarettes has alarmed health officials who worry kids will get addicted to nicotine, a stimulant, and be more likely to try cigarettes. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration gave the five largest e-cigarette makers 60 days to produce plans to stop underage use of their products.

Nearly 9 percent of students surveyed in 2016 said they used an e-cigarette device with marijuana, according to Monday’s report in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. That included one-third of those who ever used e-cigarettes.

The number is worrying “because cannabis use among youth can adversely affect learning and memory and may impair later academic achievement and education,” said lead researcher Katrina Trivers of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Students who said they lived with a tobacco user were more likely than others to report vaping marijuana.

It’s unclear whether marijuana vaping is increasing among teens or holding steady. The devices have grown into a multi-billion industry, but they are relatively new.

In states where marijuana is legal, shoppers can buy cartridges of liquid containing THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets people high, that work with a number of devices. Juul, by far the most popular e-cigarette device, does not offer marijuana pods, but users can re-fill cartridges with cannabis oil. 

It was the first time a question about marijuana vaping was asked on this particular survey, which uses a nationally representative sample of students in public and private schools. More than 20,000 students took the survey in 2016.

A different survey from the University of Michigan in December found similar results when it asked for the first time about marijuana vaping. In that study, 8 percent of 10th graders said they vaped marijuana in the past year.

“The health risks of vaping reside not only in the vaping devices, but in the social environment that comes with it,” said University of Michigan researcher Richard Miech. Kids who vape are more likely to become known as drug users and make friends with drug users, he said, adding that “hanging out with drug users is a substantial risk factor for future drug use.”


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