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July 23, 1982

'Conditioning' with placebo lowers mouse drug dose

JAMA. 1982;248(4):407. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330040007004

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Pairing a "placebo" with an immunosuppressive drug produced a greater response in mice than that obtained with the same dose of drug alone, according to Robert Ader, PhD, professor of psychiatry and psychology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York, and Nicholas Cohen, PhD, of the school's Department of Microbiology.

These results, presented at the American Psychosomatic Society meeting in Denver, raise the possibility that such a "conditioning technique" could one day allow clinicians to use less than the current dosage of such drugs in treating patients.

The investigators dramatically modified the development in New Zealand hybrid mice of an autoimmune disease virtually identical to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in humans. Resulting in a lethal glomerulonephritis, the disease ordinarily develops spontaneously in the mice somewhere between 8 and 14 months of age, Ader said. Animals treated with cyclophosphamide survive longer, "and we hypothesized that substitution of a