New Study Reveals Safe Places To Use Drugs Would Save $6M In Opioid Epidemic-Related Costs

A new cost-benefit analysis led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers and collaborators revealed that safe drug sites would save $6 million annually in opioid epidemic-related costs.

In safe consumption spaces, people can utilize illicit drugs, while being monitored by medical staff, which are trained to treat overdoses. Advocates say it prevents drug users from being forced to use in high-risk places, such as on street corners and in abandoned buildings.

Users would also have access to social services like housing assistance and drug treatment.

In American, safe consumption spaces are illegal, but are utilized in some countries. Advocates are pushing to open locations throughout the United States, including two locations in Baltimore.

The findings revealed that the spaces would reduce, hepatitis C infections, HIV, overdose deaths, hospitalizations and overdose-related ambulance calls.

“No one has ever died from an overdose in a safe consumption space,” lead author, Susan G. Sherman, a professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Bloomberg School, said in a statement. “Thousands of lives have been saved. There are lots of doors people can walk through when they are addicted to drugs. We want them to walk through a door that may eventually lead to successful treatment – and keep them alive until they are ready for that.”

Just this year, a measure permitting safe consumption spaces failed in the Maryland General Assembly.

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Baltimore Prosecutors, Police Turning To Child Witnesses To Solve Criminal Cases

Baltimore prosecutors and police rely primarily on adult witnesses to crime to solve cases, but with the increasing violence in they city they have begun turning to the most unlikely source, children.

On Monday, the state’s attorney office and Police Department announced a partnership with Baltimore Child Abuse Centers’ trained interviewers to question the youngest witnesses of violence and other crimes. The idea is to solve crimes and help children deal with the trauma.

“Children witnesses oftentimes suffer first-hand violence,” said Baltimore State’s attorney Marilyn J. Mosby. “The post-traumatic stress, the depression, attachment issues … If we don’t try to channel this in a productive way, it can be detrimental.”


Baltimore Police Interviewing Children To Solve Crimes

Source: BCACI

In a city, where violent crimes and homicide is surging, with 130 homicides recorded this year so far, children are potentially valuable witnesses.

For years, law enforcement has partnered with the child abuse center to prosecute and solve cases of sexual abuse. The center can now prove even more valuable by helping to carefully get information from children on a wider array of crimes.

Detectives in the Baltimore Police Department’s family crimes unit moved to the center at 2300 North Charles Street. In addition to the move, the center’s staff is performing a higher number of forensic interviews. The U.S. Department of Justice awarded the center a $600,000 grant, which will be utilized to hire new staff members and a specialized therapist to work with children, conduct research at Baltimore schools and train prosecutors.

Some children have already been brought to the center after being rescued from a sex trafficking ring and only minutes after witnessing a homicide. For other children, it may take weeks or months to arrive at the center.

In 2010, the center extended opening times to 24 hours a day, while adding services for youth involved in trafficking, domestic violence and pornography. In 2016, the center served over 1,000 children and nearly three years ago, it began aiding police in homicide investigations.

The center offers medical services, art therapy, yoga and referrals for counseling and psychiatric help. It also provides trainings for teachers, camp counselors, coaches and others who frequently interact with children.

Just recently, a mother brought her son and two daughters to the center to be screened for STDs related to an alleged sexual abuse case. Urine samples were collected, while Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer played in the background.

“There are kids who are experiencing a lot of trauma and if we do that right, if we respond correctly and get these children help, we will build a better city a generation from now,” said Adam Rosenberg, the center’s director.

Baltimore Child Abuse Center
2300 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218
(410) 396-6147

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Hopkins Researchers Create ‘An Atmosphere In A Bottle’

An assistant professor of planetary sciences at Johns Hopkins would hop aboard a space shuttle and travel to Saturn’s largest moon ‘Titan’, if it was possible. Her best alternative was to bring Titan’s dust and gases to her lab at Johns Hopkins University.

Sarah Horst and her team of graduate student researchers developed “an atmosphere in a bottle” in her lab, utilizing a metal canister, tubes and an electrical charge. Gases – similar to those potentially found on a distant body – are pumped into the cylindrical metal chamber through tubes, then heated or cooled with liquid nitrogen to the appropriate temperature and zapped with an electric charge that mimics a blast of charged particles from a star, such as the sun.


Titan Saturn's Largest Moon

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Using Two Existing Drugs, Researchers Were Able To Alter A Biochemical Signaling Process

A study conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers and collaborators has found a biochemical signaling process responsible for causing condensed cancer cells to separate from a malignant tumor and spread the disease to somewhere else in the body. In the study, the researchers utilized two existing drugs in combination to alter this process and in turn slow cancer’s inclination to travel, a behavior known as metastasis.

Metastasis is associated to 90 percent of cancer deaths and anything that is capable of derailing this action could potentially improve cancer patients’ prognosis. When the researchers closely examined cellular events that are responsible for promoting metastasis, they discovered the vital, new signaling process.

“We found that it was not the overall size of a primary tumor that caused cancer cells to spread, but how tightly those cells are jammed together when they break away from the tumor,” said lead author Hasini Jayatilaka, a postdoctoral fellow at John Hopkins’ Physical Sciences-Oncology Center. “At a fundamental level, we found that cell density is very important in triggering metastasis. It’s like waiting for a table in a severely overcrowded restaurant and then getting a message that says you need to take your appetite elsewhere.”

By utilizing a medication mix, the researchers were able to prevent this microscopic message from getting delivered. The researchers warned that this treatment had not yet been tested on humans with cancer, but was tested in animal models. However, the finding provides to an encouraging new focus for cancer research – impeding the biochemical activity that is responsible for prodding cancer cells to spread elsewhere in the body.

A senior author of the study, Denis Writz, director of Johns Hopkins’ Physical Science-Oncology Center, said there are currently no commercial drugs being produced specifically to stop metastasis, because pharmaceutical companies think the optimal strategy to prevent metastasis is to annihilate the primary tumor from which the cancer originates.

Two pivotal drivers of metastasis are the cancer cells’ ability to travel through surrounding tissue until they finally get to the bloodstream and their likelihood to reproduce a rapid rate. In the bloodstream, the cancer cells can get a free ride to spread cancer throughout the body.

The researchers utilized a 3D environment that replicates human tissue to determine how these activities begin. They found that as two forms of cancer cells reproduced and produced more dense conditions in the test site, these cells released specific proteins that motivated migration. These proteins were identified as Interleukin 8 (IL-8) and Interleukin 6 (IL-6).

“IL-6 and IL-8 seem to deliver a message to cancer cells, telling them to move away from the densely populated primary tumor,” said Jayatilaka.

In their animal studies, the research team discovered that implementing two existing drugs, Reparaxin and Tocilizumab, prevented the receptors responsible for enabling cancer cells to receive their relocation orders. The FDA approved Tocilizumab for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and is currently in trials for use in ovarian cancer cases. Other researchers are evaluating Reparaxin as a potential treatment for breast cancer.

The study was published online in Nature Communications on May 26, 2017.

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Rocket Tiers Learning Center Employee Charged With Murder In Death Of 8-Month-Old

On Tuesday, daycare workers at Rocket Tiers Learning Center found an 8-month-old girl unresponsive and notified Baltimore Police Department. A staffer recounted the moments before Bowman was found deceased, saying she had fed the child, then wrapped her in a blanket and put into a crib for a nap.

According to Baltimore police, a video camera at the center contradicted the staffer’s story.

Criminal Investigations Chief Stanley Brandford, said the staffer, 23-year-old Leah Walden, of Windsor Mill, could be seen covering the child with “excessive blankets,” – covering the baby’s head completely.


Rocket Tiers Staffer Leah Walden Charged With Murder

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NOAA Forecasters Predicting Above-Normal Hurricane Season

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters have predicted a very busy Atlantic hurricane season.

The forecasters are calling for 20 percent chances of a below-normal season; 35 percent chances of a typical year; and 45 percent chances of an active year in the tropics.

Those predictions break away from previous forecasts of a below-normal season, based primarily on the expectations that El Niño was developing.

NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster, Gerry Bell, said the outlook “reflects our expectation of a weak or non-existent El Niño” and warmer-than-normal or normal water temperatures spread across the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic.


Hurricane Activity In The Pacific

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Chipotle Opens At Towson Commons On May 25

Chipotle Mexican Grill opened its third location in Towson on Thursday. The 2908-square-foot restaurant at Towson Commons features a variety of Mexican foods that are prepared in open kitchens daily.

The Towson-area locations at 6314 York Road and 801 Goucher Boulevard offer customers customizable options unlike other similar restaurants. The ingredients derive from local sources to enhance the economy.


Chipotle Mexican Grill Opens In Towson

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Surgeons Successfully Transplanted Hepatitis C-Infected Kidneys And Then Cured The Disease

Utilizing such methods – transplantation with an infected-Hepatitis C kidney – to expand the supply of available donor organs is daring and risky. Once the kidneys were transplanted, patients were administered a new drug to eradicate the virus.

Pilot studies conducted separately by Johns Hopkins University and the University Pennsylvania found that strategy worked flawlessly.

A total of 10 patients from Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania underwent the procedure. After a 12-week regimen of Zepatier, a new Hepatitis C drug, the Hepatitis C virus was completely eradicated.


Kidney Transplant

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Two School Buses In Harford County Crashed Less Than A Mile Apart

Early Wednesday, two school buses traveling on the same Harford County road crashed in separate incidents. The crashes occurred nearly a half-mile apart, leaving two students and an adult injured.

The incidents occurred on Route 543 within 15 minutes of each other. According to commander of the Maryland State Police barrack in Bel Air, Lieutenant Tim Mullin, one of the drivers involved in the accident was transported to Shock Trauma by helicopter and two students, one from each bus, were transported to nearby hospitals.

The first crash occurred near Route 22, at Hillside Drive at 7:15 a.m. and the second crash occurred 15 minutes later at 7:30 a.m. at Redfield Road.

The school bus involved in the first crash was carrying 11 students, when it was rear-ended by a Ford Explorer driven by Anita Page of Joppa. Page was attempting to change into the left turn lane, when she crashed into a Mitsubishi Lancer, before rear-ending the school bus.

A 15-year-old male student was transported to the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air.

Police charged Page with an unsafe lane change.

In the second crash on Redfield Road, the school bus ran a red light and collided into a blue Chevy Cobalt, driven by Artemis Howe of Forest Hill. Howe was freed from the vehicle before being airlifted to a nearby hospital. According to police, an 11-year-old girl on the bus was transported to Upper Chesapeake.

Police charged Angela Harpster, driver of the bus, with failing to stop at a red light.

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Maryland Democratic Candidate For Governor Proposes Schools Offer Computer Coding Courses

The first, formal campaign promise of the 2018 race for governor comes from Democrat Alec Ross, who is proposing mandatory requirements for all Maryland schools to provide computer coding and science courses by 2022.

Ross, a technology entrepreneur and former adviser of Hillary Clinton, is the first candidate to formally launch a bid for Maryland governor.


Entrepreneur Alec Ross

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