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National experts to gather for 'groundbreaking' alcohol, drug abuse, chemical intolerance meeting

CHAPEL HILL Top experts on drug and alcohol abuse and chemical intolerance from around the United States will gather at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park Sept. 19 and 20 for a unique conference on what causes those debilitating conditions.

Among institutions represented will be Columbia, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Washington State universities, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the universities of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Texas.

"This meeting will be ground-breaking on several accounts," said Dr. David H. Overstreet of the UNC School of Medicine who is co-chairing the event. "It will bring together for the first time experts in two fields that have never before come together formally.

"Researchers in drug and alcohol abuse will share their ideas with researchers in chemical intolerance, which includes such issues as 'sick' buildings, Gulf War syndrome and exposure to pesticides," said Overstreet, a professor at UNC's Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies. "It is also the first time that the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences will co-sponsor a meeting with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism."

The event's purpose will be to explore increasingly promising common ground between the two fields, he said. Among subjects to be discussed will be "TILT," a new disease mechanism also referred to as "toxicant-induced loss of tolerance."

That mechanism appears related to respiratory illnesses such as asthma, neurological conditions including depression and migraine headaches and autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, Overstreet said. It also has been linked to addictions to drugs, alcohol and food and how people differ in their reactions to various environmental substances such as pollutants.

"Although there have been some advances in alcoholism treatment, such as the addition of ac
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Contact: David Williamson
rdtokids@email.unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
30-Aug-2005


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