In the September 27, 2002, issue of Science, George Ricaurte, M.D., an associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues reported some startling findings about the party drug ecstasy.
They reported that they had found, in a handful of squirrel monkeys and baboons, that simply one night of using Ecstasy was capable of damaging the neurotransmitter serotonin or the neurotransmitter dopamine. "These findings suggest that humans who use repeated doses of MDMA [ecstasy] over several hours are at high risk for incurring severe brain dopaminergic neural injury (along with significant serotonergic neurotoxicity)," the investigators concluded in their study report (Psychiatric News, November 1, 2002).
Ricaurte and his coworkers have now retracted those findings in the "Letters to the Editor" section of the September 12 Science. They claim that the drug that they had injected into their experimental animals and that they believed was ecstasy was actually methamphetamine, and that the error occurred because the drug supplier had mixed up labels for the two substances.
The retraction is posted on the Web at www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/301/5639/1479b.pdf. ▪
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