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Re: Cost vs. Benefit Noa

Posted by Adam on February 14, 2001, at 17:57:05

In reply to Re: Creation stifled with AD, posted by Noa on February 14, 2001, at 12:10:05

Noa, and others: Do the drugs make you happier?

I think that's the major parameter to consider. It's tough to imagine how to design a "creativity index" so that you can say in any quantifiable way that one's creative potential is affected by an antidepressant. I guess one thing that would set off buzzers in my mind is if people who felt they were deriving no emotional benefit from an AD still had major complaints about a creative urge.

For instance, I didn't get a whole lot out of SSRIs, emotionally. But I know they were having an influence on seratonin signaling because I couldn't really get it up, or if I could not much came of it (I know, bad, bad pun).

Around the time I started SSRIs, I stopped writing. Maybe there's a connection, maybe not. I don't know. But this was only something I thought of after the fact. And the evidence is as clear as the frequency of entries in my journal. I had more free time, did less with it. One thing I do think is true about Zoloft (the main drug for that period): I definitely couldn't give a rat's ass sometimes, whether I felt good about something or not. Before, I was certainly unhappy, but "yeah, whatever" was not my usual way of dealing with things.

Now there's a new drug. I'm very happy, by comparison. I'm still not writing that much in the way of poetry. Just don't have the urge.

But, I was planning an experiment yesterday. It's kind of hard to explain. Basically, I needed to get some DNA in some cells so that the cells would express a gene they normally don't. Now, the way I'm getting the DNA in the cells is to complex the DNA with some lipids, and then, once the complex forms, add a modified version of a cold virus (adenovirus) to the mix. Cells normally take up DNA that is complexed with certain lipids, but the addition of the virus greatly enhances this process.

The particular gene I wanted to put in the cells can be turned on by another gene, also normally not expressed (or expressed only sparingly). However, you can introduce a copy of this second gene too, in such a way that it ramps up the expression of the first one. However, the way my experiment was designed, I couldn't simultaneously add another chunk of DNA to my lipid/DNA complex to "co-transfect" them, as they say (the reason is too complicated to get into here - it has to do with ratios of DNA to lipid and toxicity, and the fact I didn't want change certain parameters to accomodate another chunk of DNA). However, we have an adenovirus on hand that happens to be engineered to express this second gene.

Normally, when I use adenovirus to enhance lipid:DNA gene transfer, I use a really dead form of the virus, one that can infect a cell, but does nothing once it's in there. I never tried to use a virus that both would facilitate gene transfer AND deliver another gene of my choosing to the cell (all the viruses I use have their own DNA inside of them, plus whatever we introduce ourselves). When I suggested this as a workaround to my boss, he was unimpressed: "Nobody's tried it, as far as I know," was his only reaction. When I said I was going to try it, he gave me that look he usually gives me when he thinks I'm going off on a tangent, or getting distracted by hairbrained acts of technical hubris. He knows better than to argue with me, though, so he just sighed and waved his hand.

Turns out it worked great. I got excellent co-expression, and whopping induction of the first gene I mentioned by the virally-infected gene, the virus playing a dual role of lipid transfection enhancer and gene transfer vector for co-expression of the second gene. It seemed perfectly straightforward to me. I didn't even think it was much of a stretch, logistically or intellectually. But I asked three other people about it before I tried it, and none of them even thought it was worth bothering with. It just isn't done, is pretty much what it boiled down to, as far as they were concerned. It irritated me. I'm sure other people do what I proposed (I just haven't found the references), and it's not an act of genius to have invented this on my own. It just meant I was thinking outside of the box a little, I guess.

So when I (perhaps a little too) triumphantly slapped the result down in front of my boss, he laughed that patient laugh and said "well, Adam, I don't know how people are going to take this method when you present it, but I'll say this, it's creative at the very least."

So go figure.

> Adam, I enjoyed your poetry. You write well.
> I used to write poems and journal entries, but do feel less creative now. I don't know if it is from the ADs or not. But I don't miss it that much, considering I really like not being depressed!




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