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Archive for the ‘Indigent Nutrition’ Category


Victoria Hale: Pharmaceutical Pioneer

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator

LPBI

 

Bringing Life-Saving Medicine to Those Who Can Least Afford It

http://www.genengnews.com/insight-and-intelligence/victoria-hale-pharmaceutical-pioneer/77900545/

The quest for innovative, affordable, and sustainable medical solutions for women has driven Victoria Hale, Ph.D., to start multiple companies. [iStock/© zodebala]

http://www.genengnews.com/media/images/AnalysisAndInsight/Oct27_2015_iStock_22080713_FamilyPoverty1381802542.jpg

http://www.genengnews.com/Media/images/AnalysisAndInsight/oct27_2015_VictoriaHale_Headshot5521815813.jpg

  • Three years into working for Genentech, Victoria Hale, Ph.D., faced a pivotal moment. Her career was on track to becoming a high-ranking, well-paid executive in one of the major pharmaceutical companies. Instead, she quit her job to create a whole new model for the way pharmaceuticals are developed.

Prior to Genentech, while working at the FDA, she witnessed an example of what happens to medicines for unprofitable markets. A pharmaceutical company was developing one new drug for two promising indications, one a potential blockbuster and the other an orphan disease. Corporate executives decided to focus on the blockbuster and abandon the orphan disease because it distracted the team from the more profitable indication.

Dr. Hale saw this as a glaring injustice.

“I felt that it was important to make drugs for everyone who needs them, regardless of whatever level they can pay,” she says. “People cannot develop medicines themselves. Experienced, trained professionals are the only ones who know how to do this. There are people who have medicines for any disease here, while 5,000 miles away babies are dying for lack of simple medications.”

Observing the inequities in how drugs were distributed, she asked a fundamental question: “What if we removed the profit requirement? What if we created a nonprofit model for developing pharmaceuticals?”

As someone with a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of California San Francisco, Dr. Hale was well aware that bringing a new drug to market can cost in the billions. Her strategy, with a future nonprofit, was to find drugs with patents that had expired or which were not being used because of low profit margins. Even so, getting governmental approval for a new use for an existing drug can cost $50 million.

  • Struck a Chord

Nevertheless her vision of creating a nonprofit model for addressing injustices in how drugs are distributed began attracting donors. Her first major fundraising success came when the Gates Foundation provided her with a $4.7 million check for seed money. In the years since, she has been granted $150 million in total for several programs. Other philanthropic organizations have continued to fund her efforts, and, surprisingly, if not amazingly, Dr. Hale was able to find an anonymous donor who provided an $82 million grant to fund low-cost highly effective contraception efforts.

Dr. Hale can point to many examples of how this nonprofit approach has successfully played out in practice. One example is the work that the company she founded in 2000, OneWorld Health, is doing in providing a cure for black fever. This is a disease that has historically infected a million people a year in India leading to 300,000 death annually.

Black fever, or visceral leishmaniasis, is a disease of the poor. A malnourished person may have a compromised immune system, making him or her vulnerable to the parasite that causes leishmaniasis.

“When I was first looking into black fever,” remembers Dr. Hale, “there was a treatment available, but the cost was more than $100, and families faced the choice of going into debt for three generations or allowing the family member to die.”

Dr. Hale learned of an injectable antibiotic, paromomycin, that was apparently effective against the parasite in the laboratory setting. It hadn’t been formally studied in people for use against black fever, and there was no money to continue further research on it, so although a cure existed, it hadn’t been proven and it wasn’t available for those who needed it. However, using her nonprofit approach, Dr. Hale and her colleagues were able to raise the $50 million from the Gates Foundation for clinical trials in India, and succeeded in demonstrating efficacy and safety.

Today, Dr. Hale, who was awarded the 2015 Award for Leadership in Women’s Health Worldwide at the 23rd Annual Congress of the Academy of Women’s Health, and her colleagues are able to produce paromomycin for $10 per treatment. As a result, and combined with other public health interventions, India may soon be free of this scourge.

Another of Dr. Hale’s concerns is unwanted pregnancy. Her organization Medicines360 is able to provide an IUD that has a 40-fold greater success rate than the pill, it lasts for three years, and is sold for $50 each to women who lack adequate insurance. Medicines360 makes it available to family planning clinics that provide services to low-income women. The consequences for women and for society are incalculable.

Like OneWorld Health, Medicines360 is also a new approach to pharmaceuticals. Medicines360 is particularly aimed at pharmaceuticals for women, and it has a unique operating model: it reinvests profits generated through commercial sales revenue and puts these profits into advocacy, education, research, and development. The goal is to provide innovative, affordable, and sustainable medical solutions for women.

For Medicines360, profits aren’t the motive; they’re the means to a mission. Dr. Hale believes that her nonprofit can be a model for other nonprofit pharmaceutical companies and also for hybrid companies that could get part of their funding from philanthropists and part from traditional sources. She already knows that there are young idealistic people who will carry the model forward and who are pushing this agenda.

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Stress and Anxiety

Writer and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

 

Introduction

This article follows immediately after two on diet and obesity and diet and exercise. The hypothalamus has been discussed in some detail, although There is more that needs to be said about glutamate receptors, which is a topic in itself. However, this material fits in place quite well.  There is a considerable amount of obesity, and exercise is limited by time and commitment.  The shrinking middle class and the working poor, and the unemployed poor as well, have a struggle to make ends meet, and with the divorce rates that we are seeing, it is stressful for a single mother to carry on a complete life as mother and caregiver, and it is not unusual to see one or both couples in a household, regardless of sex, to hold two jobs.  Students enter colleges for higher education and leave with significant debts.  Graduates with advanced degrees may have to compete with a crowd of qualified applicants for an academic position, or even for a job in technology.  In addition, there is an increase in stress related disorders in the   pre-school, elementary and middle school population.  We no longer have to read the front pages to learn that a violent act has been carried out somewhere, in some neighborhood in our great nation that has experienced a great civil war, two world wars, the Mc Carthy hearings, the Cold War, and Vietnam, and the Iraq War, all of which was accompanied by migrations, immigration, and outsourcing of jobs.  The following is another look at how we are adjusting.

 

Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress management program as an adjunct to pharmacotherapy in patients with anxiety disorder

Sang Hyuk Lee, Seung Chan Ahn, Yu Jin Lee, Tae Kyu Choi, et al.
J Psychosomatic Research 62 (2007) 189–195
http://dx.doi.org:/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2006.09.009

Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a meditation-based stress management program in patients with anxiety disorder.
Methods: Patients with anxiety disorder were randomly assigned to an 8-week clinical trial of either a meditation-based stress management program or an anxiety disorder education program. The Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A), the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D), the State–Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Symptom Checklist- 90 — Revised (SCL-90-R) were used to measure outcome at 0, 2, 4, and 8 weeks of the program. Results: Compared to the education group, the meditation-based stress management group showed significant improvement in scores on all anxiety scales (HAM-A, P=.001; STAI state, P=.001; STAI trait, P=.001; anxiety subscale of SCL-90-R,P=.001) and in the SCL-90-R hostility subscale (P=.01). Findings on depression measures were inconsistent, with no significant improvement shown by subjects in the meditation-based stress management group compared to those in the education group. The meditation-based stress management group did not show significant improvement in somatization, obsessive–compulsive symptoms, and interpersonal sensitivity scores, or in the SCL-90-R phobic anxiety subscale compared to the education group. Conclusions: A meditation-based stress management program can be effective in relieving anxiety symptoms in patients with anxiety disorder. However, well-designed, randomized, and controlled trials are needed to scientifically prove the worth of this intervention prior to treatment.

 

Evidence and Potential Mechanisms for Mindfulness Practices and Energy Psychology for Obesity and Binge-Eating Disorder

Renee Sojcher, Susan Gould Fogerite, and Adam Perlman
Explore 2012; 8(5):271-276
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2012.06.003

Obesity is a growing epidemic. Chronic stress produces endocrine and immune factors that are contributors to obesity’s etiology. These biochemical alsocan affect appetite and eating behaviors that can lead to binge-eating disorder. The inadequacies of standard care and the problem of patient noncompliance have inspired a search for alternative treatments. Proposals in the literature have called for combination therapies involving behavioral or new biological therapies. This manuscript suggests that mindbody interventions would be ideal for such combinations. Two mind body modalities, energy psychology and mindfulness meditation, are reviewed for their potential in treating weight loss, stress, and behavior modification related to binge-eating disorder.

Whereas mindfulness meditation and practices show more compelling evidence, energy psychology, in the infancy stages of elucidation, exhibits initially promising outcomes but requires further evidence-based trials. “Diets Don’t Work” has been a mantra repeated over and over in the media. In fact, in a 2006 study in which investigators compared several popular diets comprising either high carbohydrates, high protein, or high fat, they found a rapid regression of compliance after six months, to the extent that it did not matter which diet had initially been more effective. In another study, authors examined a combination of diet and exercise compared with diet alone and observed that 50% of their subjects in both groups regained the weight that they lost after one year, despite their having lost more weight with the combination therapy. Despite the failure of diet alone in most studies, strategies incorporating both diet and exercise can be effective: a Cochrane review on exercise for overweight or obesity concluded that exercise had a positive effect on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors and that this effect was enhanced by a combination of exercise with dietary interventions.

The authors of a more recent study found that the benefits of exercise in inducing weight loss may come through psychological pathways rather than through actual energy expenditure. These factors include self-regulation and self-efficacy, which may mediate the relationship between exercise and weight change. Psychological interventions, particularly behavioral therapy and CBT, have been shown to be effective, especially when combined with diet and exercise. However, these interventions are costly and require extensive clinical contact for long durations to achieve efficacy. The authors of a recent randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a three-year follow-up period looked at a new form of CBT that addresses patients’ overeating and low level of activity, as well as factors that impede weight maintenance, and found that this form of therapy did not result in improved weight maintenance. These authors concluded that CBT is not sufficiently effective in helping patients maintain their weight loss in the long term. Although 20% of people will not change their eating behaviors under stress, most do; approximately 40% will increase and 40% will decrease their eating.

The emotional eaters, who tend to increase food intake, are more likely to crave high-fat/sweet and rewarding comfort foods. The basis for this behavior is becoming understood to entail brain pathways that involve learning and memory of reward and pleasure. Habit formation and decreased cognitive control are also involved. These habits form the basis of BED. Binge eating occurs when a person eats larger amounts of food than normal in a short amount of time. It therefore involves a loss of control and is often precipitated by a range of negative emotions, such as anxiety, depression, anger, and loneliness. Overweight subjects may or may not be characterized as binge eaters.

The stress response, also known as the “fight or flight response,” involves the interaction of the autonomic nervous system, which includes the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems, the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis and endocrine secretion. Together, these systems comprise neuro-endocrine pathways that collaborate to maintain the body’s regulation of homeostasis. This mechanism is very effective when stress is acute, but in the case of chronic stress, the effect can be injurious to one’s physiological state. Over time, chronic exposure to stress hormones contributes to“ allostatic load.” The stress hormones released by the body, mostly cortisol, can alter the body’s fuel metabolism, especially by adipose tissue, leading to an increase in upper-body obesity. Furthermore, hormones such as leptin, ghrelin, and neuropeptide Y can affect appetite and cause changes in fat mass storage. This results in the linking of stress and obesity.

Given the limited success of conventional approaches and the new information about the psychological and physiological mechanisms underlying obesity, we propose that a specific sub-group of mind-body therapies, including energy psychology and mindfulness-based approaches, could add an important new dimension to the integrative treatment of eating disorders. Energy psychology refers to a family of therapies that are used for treating physical disorders and psychological symptoms, which includes Thought Field Therapy, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT). These therapies incorporate concepts originating from non-Western healing and spiritual systems, including acupuncture, acupressure, yoga, meditation, and qigong, and they combine physical activity with mental activation on the basis of the premise that the body is composed of electrical signals or energy fields. Energy psychology has been quite controversial among psychotherapists and has been the subject of much heated debate in the literature. Nonetheless, the clinical application of these practices is growing and is beginning to be investigated for efficacy. Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (ie,MB-EAT) involves the cultivation of mindfulness, mindful eating, emotional balance, and self-acceptance.

A pilot trial of a six-week group curriculum for providing mindfulness training to obese individuals, called Mindful Eating and Living (ie,MEAL), showed significant increases in measures of mindfulness and cognitive restraint around eating and significant decreases in weight, eating disinhibition, bingeeating, depression, perceived stress, physical symptoms, negative affect ,and C-reactive protein. In a recent systematic review of eight studies, authors examined a variety of mindfulness techniques in treating eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, and BED. Because trial quality varied and sample sizes were small, the researchers concluded that mindfulness may be effective in treating eating disorders but that further research was needed. The authors noted, however, that all of the articles that met the study’s criterion reported positive outcomes for the mindfulness intervention. Two additional studies recently addressed the treatment of obesity with a combination of mindfulness strategies and ACT. Lillis et al. conducted a RCT on 87 subjects who had all completed at least a six-month weight loss program. Using a wait list control against treatment of the experimental group through a one-day workshop, the authors found that, compared with the control group, the experimental group showed greater improvements in obesity-related stigma, quality of life, psychological distress, and reduction of body mass in a three-month follow-up. Alberts et al. conducted an RCT on 19 participants in a 10-week dietary group treatment that examined the effect of mindfulness plus ACT on food cravings. Experimental subjects underwent an additional seven-week, manual-based mindfulness/acceptance training. The control group received information on healthy food choices. The experimental group showed significantly lower food cravings, a lower preoccupation with food in four subscales, less loss of control, and better positive outcome expectancy, as compared with the control group. There was no significant effect observed for emotional craving. The authors of both of these studies conclude that mindfulness strategies combined with acceptance are effective in reducing the behaviors that lead many obese patients to overeat. With regards to stress, mindfulness can reduce psychological factors that have been shown to contribute to obesity.

In a recent well conducted systematic review, Mars and Abbey examined 22 studies with conditions ranging from participants with Axis I disorders, various diagnosed medical disorders, and healthy subjects. Axis I disorders include a range of psychopathologies such as childhood developmental and adjustment abnormalities, adult anxiety, and mood, sleep, and sexual disorders. Subjects with BED are known to have greater comorbidity forAxis I disorders. The authors report that five studies examining Axis I disorders showed statistically significant results for an eight-week, two hours per week MBCT program in reducing psychological stress, recurring bouts of depression, and pain. They conclude that, despite some methodological difficulties in the trials, mindfulness therapy may have a positive impact on reducing stress and depression. Despite increasing public awareness of obesity’s detrimental effects on health, the conventional approaches to managing this condition have not been effective. The recommended standard care for overweight and obesity, namely diet and exercise, are for the most part ineffective in the long term. Behavioral therapy and CBT may have some effect but are costly and difficult to implement. Issues with bariatric surgery and pharmacological therapies attributable to cost and the potential for harm, as well as lack of long-term efficacy, have limited their utility.

The effectiveness of a stress coping program based on mindfulness meditation on the stress, anxiety, and depression experienced by nursing students in Korea

Yune Sik Kang, So Young Choi, Eunjung Ryu
Nurse Education Today 29 (2009) 538–543
http://dx.doi.org:/10.1016/j.nedt.2008.12.003

This study examined the effectiveness of a stress coping program based on mindfulness meditation on the stress, anxiety, and depression experienced by nursing students in Korea. A nonequivalent, control group, pre-posttest design was used. A convenience sample of 41 nursing students were randomly assigned to experimental (n=21) and control groups (n=20). Stress was measured with the PWI-SF(5-point) developed by Chang. Anxiety was measured with Spieberger’s state anxiety y inventory. Depression was measured with the Beck depression inventory. The experimental group attended 90-min sessions for eight weeks. No intervention was administered to the control group. Nine participants were excluded from the analysis because they did not complete the study due to personal circumstances, resulting in16 participants in each group for the final analysis. Results for the two groups showed

(1) a significant difference in stress scores (F=6.145,p=0.020),

(2) a significant difference in anxiety scores (F=6.985,p=0.013), and

(3) no significant difference in depression scores (t=1.986,p=0.056).

A stress coping program based on mindfulness meditation was an effective intervention for nursing students to decrease their stress and anxiety, and could be used to manage stress in student nurses. In the future, long-term studies should be pursued to standardize and detail the program, with particular emphasis on studies to confirm the effects of the program in patients with diseases, such as cancer.

 

 

Meditation and Anxiety Reduction: A Literature Review

M. M. Delmonte Clin
Psychol Rev 1985; 5: 91-102
Meditation is increasingly being practiced as a therapeutic technique. The effects of practice on psychometrically assessed anxiety levels has been extensively researched. Prospective meditators tend to report above average anxiety. In general, high anxiety levels predict a subsequent low frequency of practice. However, the evidence suggests that those who practice regularly tend to show significant decreases in anxiety. Meditation does not appear to be more effective than comparative interventions in reducing anxiety. There is evidence to suggest that hypnotizability and expectancy may both play a role in reported anxiety decrease. Certain individuals with a capacity to engage in autonomous self-absorbed relaxation, may benefit most from meditation.

 

Meta-analysis on the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy on mental health of adults with a chronic disease: What should the reader not make of it?

Ernst Bohlmeijer, Rilana Prenger, ErikTaal
Letters to the Editor/J Psychosom Res 69 (2010) 613–615
http://dx.doi.org:/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2010.09.005

In a letter to the editor, Nyklíček et al. discuss the study of Bohlmeijer et al. [1]on the meta-analysis on the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) therapy on mental health of adults with a chronic disease. They claim that the effects of MBSR are underestimated in this meta-analysis due to the inclusion of a study using an active education support group as control group and to the omission of some subscales for which larger effect sizes have been found. We do not agree that the study using an active education support group as a control group should not have been included in the meta-analysis. It is a common procedure to include studies with various types of control groups, e.g., waiting-list, placebo, minimal interventions, or evidence-based treatment. Normally, subgroup analyses can be conducted, contrasting studies that use differen ttypes of control groups. As seven studies used a waiting-list control condition and only one study used an education support group, this subgroup comparison was not useful. However, when we conducted a meta-analysis of the seven RCTs using a waiting-list control group an overall effect size of 0.30 instead of 0.26 was found. In addition, it is often found in meta-analyses that the largest effect sizes are reported in studies that use waiting-list control groups, e.g. ,Refs.[2,3]. The fact that almost all studies included in our meta-analysis in fact used waiting-list control groups makes it unlikely that the effects of MBSR were underestimated. As to the second claim by Nyklíček e tal.that some outcomes were selectively omitted from the meta-analysis, we can state that the subscales of the POMS were included in the meta-analysis.The program that was used in our study, Comprehensive Meta-Analysis, combined the scales that measure the same outcome, e.g., anxiety in one study. So the larger effects sizes for the subscales of the POMS were included in the meta-analysis. Lastly, Nyklíčeketal. State that ‘decentering’ is not an exclusive process of MBCT but is a central feature of MBSR as well. MBCT was specifically developed for people with recurrent depression and on the basis of a thorough analysis of the role of specific cognitions in people with recurrent depression. In ouropinion, this may explain the large effect sizes that have been found in randomized controlled trials, e.g., [4]. In general, other studies have shown that integrating MBSR in behavioral therapy is a very promising strategy for enhancing the efficacy of treatments of psychological  distress[5,6]. However, more studies with different target groups are needed to answer the question as to which mindfulness-based intervention is most effective for which target group in which setting. Overall, in response to the letter to the editor by Nyklíček et al. we cannot corroborate their claim that the effects of MBSR were underestimated and have to stand with our conclusion that, on the basis of current RCTs, MBSR has small leffects on depression and anxiety in people with chronic medical diseases.

[1] BohlmeijerET, PrengerR, TaalE, CuijpersP.
The effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy on the mental health of adults with a chronic medical disease: A meta-analysis.
JPsychosom Res 2010; 68:539–44.

[2]Powers MB, Zum Vörde Sive Vörding MB, Emmelkamp PMG.
Acceptance and commitment therapy: A meta-analytic review.
Psychoth Psychosom 2009; 78:73–80.

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Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator

http://pharmaceuticalinnovation/6/7/2014/Omega-3 fatty acids, depleting the source, and protein insufficiency in renal disease

 

This article is concerned only with updating the importance of key nutrients for maintenance of health. Nutritional losses are associated with memory loss, impaired immunity, and loss of lean body mass.

 

Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids may cause memory problems

Disease and ConditionsGeneral Diet • Tags: Alzheimer’s diseaseAmerican Academy of NeurologyDocosahexaenoic acidMagnetic resonance imagingNeurologyOmega-3 fatty acid, United States Environmental Protection AgencyUniversity of California Los Angeles

09 Mar 2012

 

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients commonly found in fish, may cause your brain to age faster and lose some of its memory and thinking abilities, according to a study published in the February 28, 2012, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Omega-3 fatty acids include the nutrients called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

salmon dinner

salmon dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“People with lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids had lower brain volumes that were equivalent to about two years of structural brain aging,” said study author Zaldy S. Tan, MD, MPH, of the Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and the Division of Geriatrics, University of California at Los Angeles.

For the study, 1,575 people with an average age of 67 and free of dementia underwent MRI brain scans. They were also given tests that measured mental function, body mass and the omega-3 fatty acid levels in their red blood cells.

The researchers found that people whose DHA levels were among the bottom 25 percent of the participants had lower brain volume compared to people who had higher DHA levels. Similarly, participants with levels of all omega-3 fatty acids in the bottom 25 percent also scored lower on tests of visual memory and executive function, such as problem solving and multi-tasking and abstract thinking.

Related articles

 

Mechanisms of muscle wasting in chronic kidney disease.

Xiaonan H WangWilliam E Mitch

Nature Reviews Nephrology (Impact Factor: 7.94). 07/2014; DOI: 10.1038/nrneph.2014.112

Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), loss of cellular proteins increases the risks of morbidity and mortality. Persistence of muscle protein catabolism in CKD results in striking losses of muscle proteins as whole-body protein turnover is great; even small but persistent imbalances between protein synthesis and degradation cause substantial protein loss. No reliable methods to prevent CKD-induced muscle wasting currently exist, but mechanisms that control cellular protein turnover have been identified, suggesting that therapeutic strategies will be developed to suppress or block protein loss. Catabolic pathways that cause protein wasting include activation of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS), caspase-3, lysosomes and myostatin (a negative regulator of skeletal muscle growth). These pathways can be initiated by complications associated with CKD, such as metabolic acidosis, defective insulin signalling, inflammation, increased angiotensin II levels, abnormal appetite regulation and impaired microRNA responses. Inflammation stimulates cellular signalling pathways that activate myostatin, which accelerates UPS-mediated catabolism. Blocking this pathway can prevent loss of muscle proteins. Myostatin inhibition could yield new therapeutic directions for blocking muscle protein wasting in CKD or disorders associated with its complications.

 

We’re Fishing the Oceans Dry. It’s Time to Reconsider Fish Farms.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations -State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture  2014

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations -State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aquaculture has gotten much greener, with American innovators leading the way.

— Text by Maddie Oatman; video by Brett Brownell

| Wed Jul. 2, 2014 6:00 AM EDT    MotherJones.com

 

When I meet Kenny Belov mid-morning at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, the boats that would normally be out at sea chasing salmon sit tethered to their docks. The steady breeze coursing through the bay belies choppier conditions farther out—so rough that the local fishermen threw in the towel for the fifth morning in a row. Belov scans the horizon as he explains this, feet away from the warehouse of his sustainable seafood company, TwoXSea. Because his business hinges on what local fishermen can bring in, he’s used to coping with wild fish shortages.

If we continue to fish at the current pace, some scientists predict we’ll be facing oceans devoid of edible marine creatures by 2050.

But unlike these fishermen, Belov has a stash of treasure in his warehouse, as he soon shows me: a golf-cart-size container of plump trout, their glossy bodies still taut from rigor mortis. The night before, Belov drove north to Humboldt to help “chill kill” the fish by submerging them live into barrels of slushy ice water. Belov can count on shipments of these McFarland Springs trout every week—because he helped grow them himself on a farm.

For many consumers, aquaculture lost its appeal after unappetizing news spread about commercial fish farms—like fish feed’s pressure on wild resources, overflowing waste, toxic buildup in the water, and displacement of natural species. But consider this: Our appetite for seafood continues to rise. Globally, we’ve hungered for 3.2 percent more seafood every year for the last five decades, double the rate of our population. Yet more than four-fifths of the world’s wild fisheries are overexploited or fully exploited (yielding the most fish possible with no expected room for growth). Only 3 percent of stocks are considered underexploited—meaning they have any significant room for expansion. If we continue to fish at the current pace, some scientists predict we’ll be facing oceans devoid of edible marine creatures by 2050.

Aquaculture could come to the rescue. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicts that farmed fish will soon surpass wild-caught; by 2030, aquaculture may produce more than 60 percent of fish we consume as food.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations “State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture” 2014 report

One of the most pressing concerns about aquaculture, though, is that many farmed fish are raised on a diet of 15 million tons a year of smaller bait fish—species like anchovies and menhaden. These bait—also known as forage fish—are ground up and converted into a substance called fishmeal. It takes roughly five pounds of them to produce one pound of farmed salmon. Bait fish are also used for nonfood products like pet food, makeup, farm animal feed, and fish oil supplements.

Forage fish are a “finite resource that’s been fully utilized.”

It may appear as though the ocean enjoys endless schools of these tiny fish, but they too have been mismanaged, and their populations are prone to collapse. They’re a “finite resource that’s been fully utilized,” says Mike Rust of NOAA’s fisheries arm. Which is disturbing, considering that researchers like those at Oceana argue that forage fish may play an outsize role in maintaining the ocean’s ecological balance, including by contributing to the abundance of bigger predatory fish.

And that’s where Belov’s trout come in: Though he swears no one can taste the difference, his fish are vegetarians. That means those five pounds of forage fish can rest easy at sea. It also means that the trout don’t consume some of the other rendered animal proteins in normal fishmeal pellets: bone meal, feather meal, blood meal, and chicken byproducts.

Belov and McFarland Springs’ owner David McFarland were inspired to switch to vegetarian feed in part by Rick Barrows, a USDA researcher. About six years ago, recounts Barrows, several USDA studies confirmed that fish rely on nutrients—vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and protein—rather than fishmeal or fish oil, to thrive. If those nutrients could be found in other products, including purely plant-based substances, then aquaculture might not be so dependent on feeding fish other smaller fish.

Barrows and team began to test about 50 potential materials a year, and now have a database of 140 that anyone can browse through online. Belov was one of their first commercial partners. The plant-based food fed to McFarland Springs’ trout consists of a hearty blend of marine algae, freshwater micro algae, vitamins, minerals, flax, flax oil, corn, and nut waste. The resulting complete protein means the trout’s omega 3s are high and their omega 6s are low—a ratio that’s said to enhance anti-inflammatory properties. And “they don’t have the concentration of heavy metals that come from the bait fish,” Belov says. I took one of his rosy fillets home and turned it into trout lox; find the recipe here.

McFarland Springs manages the trout’s waste by funneling it out into a natural sagebrush pasture where it composts the soil.

Belov’s fish feed includes California nuts that are too broken or disfigured to be sold.

Barrows thinks region-specific material for this type of feed offers the most potential. For instance, his team learned that around 5 percent of California nuts can’t be sold because they’re broken or disfigured. They realized they could repurpose excess nut parts for the trout feed; the nut bits helped round out the complete protein. Lately, Barrows has become especially excited about turning barley surplus from the beer industry—which comes at a cheap price in Montana, where he’s based—into a feed-grade concentrate for trout feed.

“You can get just as much growth rate out of fishmeal-free feeds as fishmeal,” says Barrows. And his lab has proven as much with eight different fish species: cobia, Florida pompano, coho salmon, Atlantic salmon, walleye, yellowtail, and White seabass.

But the price difference still stands in the way for many fish farmers. Belov pays slightly more than $1/pound for his plant-based feed, whereas fishmeal pellets average around $0.71/pound. He sells his trout for $6.95/pound, about a dollar more than conventional. But he’s well positioned in the affluent Bay Area, and he usually sells out of his McFarland Springs trout well before the end of each week. As innovation continues in the realm of plant-based feeds, he’s hopeful, along with Barrows, that the price of the pellets will continue to drop.

Here in the United States, we consume plenty of farmed fish already, but only 5 percent of it is sourced domestically. “If we didn’t import so much farmed seafood,” implored Four Fish author Paul Greenberg in a recent New York Times op-ed, “we might develop a viable, sustainable aquaculture sector of our own.” It doesn’t just boil down to economics: The locations we generally export from, like China and South Asia, don’t have near the stringent environmental and health regulations as the US. “Growing more seafood at home would help with trade deficit, but also we could control the safety more,” says Barrows.

Though our current aquaculture sector is relatively tiny, US farmers are in a better position to innovate, because we have a sophisticated animal nutrition research center and feed sector, says NOAA’s Rust. “We’re the leading technical country in the world on feed.”

Belov wasn’t always open to aquaculture, and he still feels that fish—such as some salmon—with healthy wild fisheries attached to them should never be farmed. That way, environmentally responsible fishermen can stay in business. His long-term strategy for sustainable seafood? Draw from the “amazing [wild] fisheries that exist, and then you backfill with intelligent aquaculture, and yes, you can feed the planet with sustainable marine products.” Which may take more work, but as he puts it, “We depleted the ocean. It wasn’t anybody else’s fault. So it’s our job to fix it.”

 

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Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/6/7/2014/Health benefit of anthocyanins from apples and berries noted for men

After significant studies have been completed, particularly on a relationship between anthocyanins consumption and decreasd risk of Parkinson’s Disease in men, it is unclear why a comparable effect is not seen in women.  This would lead one to ask questions about predominant time course of development in relationship to androgen activity.  Pre- and postmenopausal status would seem to make no difference. It is reported that the anthocyanins cross the blood brain barrier.  There are other questions that need to be raised.  There is a decline in the production of transthyretin by the choroid plexus in the elderly – not sex related – with an elevation of homocysteine that is reciprocal to decline in transthyretin-RBP complex, that is related to AD.  This is mediated by cystathionine-beta synthase, and involves matrix metalloproteinases.  A mechanism for Parkinson’s Disease has been postulated to be related to Parkin gene expression, but how does this work, and why do we see the sex assymetry?

Eating flavonoids protects men against Parkinson’s disease

General DietMissed – Medical Breakthroughs • Tags: AnthocyaninFlavonoidHarvard University,HealthNeurologyParkinsonParkinson DiseaseUniversity of East Anglia

http://healthresearchreport.me/       07 Apr 2012

Men who eat flavonoid-rich foods such as berries, tea, apples and red wine significantly reduce their risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to new research by Harvard University and the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Published today in the journal Neurology ®, the findings add to the growing body of evidence that regular consumption of some flavonoids can have a marked effect on human health. Recent studies have shown that these compounds can offer protection against a wide range of diseases including heart disease, hypertension, some cancers and dementia.

This latest study is the first study in humans to show that flavonoids can protect neurons against diseases of the brain such as Parkinson’s.

Around 130,000 men and women took part in the research. More than 800 had developed Parkinson’s disease within 20 years of follow-up. After a detailed analysis of their diets and adjusting for age and lifestyle, male participants who ate the most flavonoids were shown to be 40 per cent less likely to develop the disease than those who ate the least. No similar link was found for total flavonoid intake in women.

The research was led by Dr Xiang Gao of Harvard School of Public Health in collaboration with Prof Aedin Cassidy of the Department of Nutrition, Norwich Medical School at UEA.

“These exciting findings provide further confirmation that regular consumption of flavonoids can have potential health benefits,” said Prof Cassidy.

“This is the first study in humans to look at the associations between the range of flavonoids in the diet and the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and our findings suggest that a sub-class of flavonoids called anthocyanins may have neuroprotective effects.”

Prof Gao said: “Interestingly, anthocyanins and berry fruits, which are rich in anthocyanins, seem to be associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease in pooled analyses. Participants who consumed one or more portions of berry fruits each week were around 25 per cent less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, relative to those who did not eat berry fruits. Given the other potential health effects of berry fruits, such as lowering risk of hypertension as reported in our previous studies, it is good to regularly add these fruits to your diet.”

Flavonoids are a group of naturally occurring, bioactive compunds found in many plant-based foods and drinks. In this study the main protective effect was from higher intake of anthocyanins, which are present in berries and other fruits and vegetables including aubergines, blackcurrants and blackberries. Those who consumed the most anthocyanins had a 24 per cent reduction in risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and strawberries and blueberries were the top two sources in the US diet.

The findings must now be confirmed by other large epidemiological studies and clinical trials.

Parkinson’s disease is a progresssive neurological condition affecting one in 500 people, which equates to 127,000 people in the UK. There are few effective drug therapies available.  Dr Kieran Breen, director of research at Parkinson’s UK said: “This study raises lots of interesting questions about how diet may influence our risk of Parkinson’s…   there are still a lot of questions to answer and much more research to do before we really know how important diet might be for people with Parkinson’s.”

 

Eating berries may lower risk of Parkinson’s

Missed – Medical Breakthroughs • Tags: BerryDoctor of PhilosophyFlavonoidParkinson,Parkinson DiseaseXiang Gao

http://healthresearchreport.me/    Public release date: 13-Feb-2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. –New research shows men and women who regularly eat berries may have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, while men may also further lower their risk by regularly eating apples, oranges and other sources rich in dietary components called flavonoids. The study was released today and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9 to April 16, 2011.

Flavonoids are found in plants and fruits and are also known collectively as vitamin P and citrin. They can also be found in berry fruits, chocolate, and citrus fruits such as grapefruit.

The study involved 49,281 men and 80,336 women. Researchers gave participants questionnaires and used a database to calculate intake amount of flavonoids. They then analyzed the association between flavonoid intakes and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. They also analyzed consumption of five major sources of foods rich in flavonoids: tea, berries, apples, red wine and oranges or orange juice. The participants were followed for 20 to 22 years.

During that time, 805 people developed Parkinson’s disease. In men, the top 20 percent who consumed the most flavonoids were about 40 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than the bottom 20 percent of male participants who consumed the least amount of flavonoids. In women, there was no relationship between overall flavonoid consumption and developing Parkinson’s disease. However, when sub-classes of flavonoids were examined, regular consumption of anthocyanins, which are mainly obtained from berries, were found to be associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease in both men and women.

“This is the first study in humans to examine the association between flavonoids and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease,” said study author Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, with the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. “Our findings suggest that flavonoids, specifically a group called anthocyanins, may have neuroprotective effects. If confirmed, flavonoids may be a natural and healthy way to reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.”
May 10, 2013

Could eating peppers prevent Parkinson’s?

Missed – Medical Breakthroughs • Tags: American Neurological AssociationAnnals of Neurology,Group Health CooperativeNicotineParkinsonParkinson’s diseaseSolanaceaeUniversity of Washington

Contact: Dawn Peters sciencenewsroom@wiley.com 781-388-8408 Wiley

Dietary nicotine may hold protective key

New research reveals that Solanaceae—a flowering plant family with some species producing foods that are edible sources of nicotine—may provide a protective effect against Parkinson’s disease. The study appearing today inAnnals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society, suggests that eating foods that contain even a small amount of nicotine, such as peppers and tomatoes, may reduce risk of developing Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder caused by a loss of brain cells that produce dopamine. Symptoms include facial, hand, arm, and leg tremors, stiffness in the limbs, loss of balance, and slower overall movement. Nearly one million Americans have Parkinson’s, with 60,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year, and up to ten million individuals worldwide live with this disease according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s, but symptoms are treated with medications and procedures such as deep brain stimulation.

Previous studies have found that cigarette smoking and other forms of tobacco, also a Solanaceae plant, reduced relative risk of Parkinson’s disease. However, experts have not confirmed if nicotine or other components in tobacco provide a protective effect, or if people who develop Parkinson’s disease are simply less apt to use tobacco because of differences in the brain that occur early in the disease process, long before diagnosis.

For the present population-based study Dr. Susan Searles Nielsen and colleagues from the University of Washington in Seattle recruited 490 patients newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the university’s Neurology Clinic or a regional health maintenance organization, Group Health Cooperative. Another 644 unrelated individuals without neurological conditions were used as controls. Questionnaires were used to assess participants’ lifetime diets and tobacco use, which researchers defined as ever smoking more than 100 cigarettes or regularly using cigars, pipes or smokeless tobacco.

Vegetable consumption in general did not affect Parkinson’s disease risk, but as consumption of edible Solanaceae increased, Parkinson’s disease risk decreased, with peppers displaying the strongest association. Researchers noted that the apparent protection from Parkinson’s occurred mainly in men and women with little or no prior use of tobacco, which contains much more nicotine than the foods studied.

“Our study is the first to investigate dietary nicotine and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr. Searles Nielsen. “Similar to the many studies that indicate tobacco use might reduce risk of Parkinson’s, our findings also suggest a protective effect from nicotine, or perhaps a similar but less toxic chemical in peppers and tobacco.” The authors recommend further studies to confirm and extend their findings, which could lead to possible interventions that prevent Parkinson’s disease.

###

This study is published in Annals of Neurology. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact sciencenewsroom@wiley.com.

Full citation: “Nicotine from Edible Solanaceae and Risk of Parkinson Disease.” Susan Searles Nielsen, Gary M. Franklin, W.T. Longstreth Jr, Phillip D. Swanson and Harvey Checkoway. Annals of Neurology; Published May 9, 2013 (DOI:10.1002/ana.23884).

URL Upon Publication: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/ana.23884

Author Contact: To arrange an interview with Dr. Susan Searles Nielsen, please contact Leila Gray with the University of Washington Health Sciences News Office at +1 206-685-0381 or at leilag@uw.edu.

About the Journal

Annals of Neurology, the official journal of the American Neurological Association and the Child Neurology Society, publishes articles of broad interest with potential for high impact in understanding the mechanisms and treatment of diseases of the human nervous system. All areas of clinical and basic neuroscience, including new technologies, cellular and molecular neurobiology, population sciences, and studies of behavior, addiction, and psychiatric diseases are of interest to the journal. The journal is published by Wiley on behalf of the
American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society. For more information, please visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/ana.

Flavonoids from berries shown to protect men against Parkinson’s disease

December 19, 2013 · by MrT

by: John Phillip, John is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and Health Researcher

(NaturalNews) Past research bodies have confirmed the health-protective effect of a natural diet rich in flavonoids to protect against a wide range of diseases including heart disease, hypertension, some cancers, and dementia. Researchers from Harvard University and the University of East Anglia have published the result of a study in the journalNeurology that demonstrates how these plant-based phytonutrients can significantly lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, especially in men.

Flavonoids from healthy foods such as berries, tea, apples, and red wine cross the delicate blood-brain barrier to protect neurons against neurologic diseases such as Parkinson’s. This large scale study included more than 130,000 men and women participants that were followed for a period of twenty years. During this time, more than 800 individuals developed Parkinson’s disease.

A diet high in flavonoids from berries lowers Parkinson’s disease risk by forty percent

After a detailed analysis of their diets and adjusting for age and lifestyle, male participants who ate the most flavonoids were shown to be forty percent  less likely to develop the disease than those who ate the least. No similar link was found for total flavonoid intake in women.

This was the first study to examine the connection between flavonoid consumption and the development of Parkinson’s disease. The findings suggest that a sub-class of flavonoids called anthocyanins may exhibit neuroprotective effects. Participants consuming one or more portions of berry fruits each week were around twenty-five percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, relative to those who did not eat berry fruits.

Flavonoids are the bioactive, naturally occurring chemical compounds found in many plant-based foods and drinks.

This study demonstrated the main protective effect was from the consumption of anthocyanins, which are present in berries and other fruits and vegetables including aubergines, blackcurrants, and blackberries. Strawberries and blueberries are the two most common sources of flavonoids in the US diet, contributing to a twenty-four percent lowered risk in this research.

Parkinson’s disease is among a group of chronic diseases presently affecting one in 500 people, with new cases on the rise. Drug therapies are ineffective and bear significant side effects.

Nutrition experts recommend adding a minimum of three to five servings of flavonoids to your diet each week. Include all varieties of berries, apples, and green tea to guard against Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative illnesses.

 

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Pathophysiological Effects of Diabetes on Ischemic-Cardiovascular Disease and on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)


Pathophysiological Effects of Diabetes on Ischemic-Cardiovascular Disease and on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Curator:  Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

This is a multipart article that develops the pathological effects of type-2 diabetes in the progression of a systemic inflammatory disease with a development of neuropathy, and fully developing into cardiovascular disease.  It also identifies a systemic relationship to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The more we learn about diabetes, we learn about its generalized systemic effects.

This article has the following SIX Parts:

Part 1. Role of Autonomic Cardiovascular Neuropathy in Pathogenesis of ischemic heart disease in patients with diabetes mellitus

Part 2. A Longitudinal Cohort Study of the Cardiovascular Experience of Individuals at High Risk for Diabetes

Part 3.  Clinical significance of cardiovascular dysmetabolic syndrome

Part 4.   Waist circumference a good indicator of future risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease

Part 5.   How to use C-reactive protein in acute coronary care

Part 6.  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and glucose metabolism: a bitter sweet symphony

INTRODUCTION

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a common chronic disease which develops insidiously over time, and is associated with obesity, nutritional imbalance (high fructose beverages, high starch and processed foods, carbohydrate excess intake, and an imbalance of proinflammatory to anti-inflammatory polyunsaturated  fatty acids), which makes it an acquired and manageable disease.  The long term effects of T2DM is played out on cardiovascular disease and stroke-risk, obstructive sleep apnea, progressive renal insufficiency, development of neuropathy, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, all of which are occuring related to an systemic inflammatory condition that proceeds for some time prior to the identification of overt diabetes.
A detailed story of a significant part of these associations continues in the SIX Part series.

Part 1. Role of Autonomic Cardiovascular Neuropathy in Pathogenesis of ischemic heart disease in patients with diabetes mellitus

This article is an abstract only of a related publication of the pathogenesis of autonomic neuropathy in diabetics leading to ischemic heart disease.

Subjects: Medicine (General), Medicine, Medicine (General),
Health Sciences Authors: Popović-Pejičić Snježana, Todorović-Đilas Ljiljana, Pantelinac Pavle
Publisher: Društvo lekara Vojvodine Srpskog lekarskog društva
Publication: Medicinski Pregled 2006; 59(3-4): Pp 118-123 (2006) ISSN(s): 0025-8105  Added to DOAJ: 2010-11-11
http://dx.doi.org/10.2298/MPNS0604118P  http://www.doiserbia.nb.rs/img/doi/0025-8105/2006/0025-81050604118P.pdf

Keywords: diabetes mellitus, autonomic nervous system diseases, heart diseases, myocardial ischemia, comorbidity

Introduction.

Diabetes is strongly associated with macrovascular complications, among which

  • ischemic heart disease is the major cause of mortality.

Autonomic neuropathy increases the risk of complications, which calls for an early diagnosis. The aim of this study was to determine

  • both presence and extent of cardiac autonomic neuropathy,

in regard to the type of diabetes mellitus, as well as

  • its correlation with coronary disease and
  • major cardiovascular risk factors.

Material and methods. We have examined 90 subjects, classified into three groups, with 30 patients each: those with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and control group of healthy subjects. All patients underwent

  • cardiovascular tests (Valsalva maneuver, deep breathing test, response to standing, blood pressure response to standing sustained, handgrip test),
  • electrocardiogram,
  • treadmill exercise test and
  • filled out a questionnaire referring to major cardiovascular risk factors: smoking, obesity, hypertension, and dyslipidemia.

Results. Our results showed that cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy was

  • more frequent in type 2 diabetes,
  • manifesting as autonomic neuropathy.

In patients with autonomic neuropathy, regardless of the type of diabetes,

  • the treadmill test was positive, i.e. strongly correlating with coronary disease.

In regard to coronary disease risk factors,

  • the most frequent correlation was found for obesity and hypertension.

Discussion

Cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy is considered to be the principal cause of arteriosclerosis and coronary disease. Our results showed that the occurrence of cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy increases the risk of coronary disease due to dysfunction of autonomic nervous system.

Conclusions

Cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes that significantly correlates with coronary disease. Early diagnosis of cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy points to increased cardiovascular risk, providing a basis for preventive and therapeutic measures.

Part 2. A Longitudinal Cohort Study of the Cardiovascular Experience of Individuals at High Risk for Diabetes

This second part is a description of a longitudinal cohort study of individuals at high-risk for diabetes.  Unlike the SSA study, the study is not focused on protein-energy malnutrition.

Protocol for ADDITION-PRO: a longitudinal cohort study of the cardiovascular experience of individuals at high risk for diabetes recruited from Danish primary care

Subjects: Public aspects of medicine, Medicine, Public Health, Health Sciences
Authors: Johansen NB, Hansen Anne-Louise S, Jensen TM, Philipsen A, Rasmussen SS, Jørgensen ME, Simmons RK, Lauritzen T, Sandbæk A, Witte DR
Publisher: BioMed Central    Date of publication: 2012 Dec Published in: BMC Public Health 2012; 12(1): 1078    ISSN(s): 1471-2458   Added to DOAJ: 2013-03-12 http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-12-1078       http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/12/1078

Keywords: Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Primary care, Complications, Microvascular, Impaired fasting glucose, Impaired glucose intolerance, Aortic stiffness, Physical activity, Body composition

Background

Screening programmes for type 2 diabetes inevitably find more individuals at high risk for diabetes than people with undiagnosed prevalent disease. While well established guidelines for the treatment of diabetes exist, less is known about treatment or prevention strategies for individuals found at high risk following screening. In order to make better use of the opportunities for primary prevention of diabetes and its complications among this high risk group, it is important to

  • quantify diabetes progression rates and to examine
  • the development of early markers of cardiovascular disease and
  • microvascular diabetic complications.

We also require a better understanding of the

  • mechanisms that underlie and drive early changes in cardiometabolic physiology.

The ADDITION-PRO study was designed to address these issues among individuals at different levels of diabetes risk recruited from Danish primary care.

Methods/Design

ADDITION-PRO is a population-based, longitudinal cohort study of individuals at high risk for diabetes. 16,136 eligible individuals were identified at high risk following participation in a stepwise screening programme in Danish general practice between 2001 and 2006.

  • All individuals with impaired glucose regulation at screening,
  • those who developed diabetes following screening, and
  • a random sub-sample of those at lower levels of diabetes risk

were invited to attend a follow-up health assessment in 2009–2011 (n = 4,188), of whom 2,082 (50%) attended. The health assessment included

  • detailed measurement of anthropometry,
  • body composition,
  • biochemistry,
  • physical activity and
  • cardiovascular risk factors including aortic stiffness and central blood pressure.

All ADDITION-PRO participants are being followed for incident cardiovascular disease and death.

Discussion

The ADDITION-PRO study is designed to increase

  • understanding of cardiovascular risk and
  • its underlying mechanisms among individuals at high risk of diabetes.

Key features of this study include

  • (i) a carefully characterised cohort at different levels of diabetes risk;
  • (ii) detailed measurement of cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors;
  • (iii) objective measurement of physical activity behaviour; and
  • (iv) long-term follow-up of hard clinical outcomes including mortality and cardiovascular disease.

Results will inform policy recommendations concerning cardiovascular risk reduction and treatment among individuals at high risk for diabetes. The detailed phenotyping of this cohort will also allow a number of research questions concerning early changes in cardiometabolic physiology to be addressed.

Part 3.  Clinical significance of cardiovascular dysmetabolic syndrome

This study also addresses the issue of diabetes insulin resistance leading to cardiovascular dysmetabolic syndrome.

Subjects: Diseases of the circulatory (Cardiovascular) system,
Specialties of internal medicine, Internal medicine, Medicine, Cardiovascular, Medicine (General), Health Sciences
Authors: Deedwania Prakash C Publisher: BioMed Central            Date of publication: 2002 Jan
Published in: Trials 2002; 3: 1(2)   ISSN(s): 1468-6708  Added to DOAJ: 2004-06-03
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1468-6708-3-2   http://cvm.controlled-trials.com/content/3/1/2

Keywords: cardiovascular dysmetabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus, hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance

Although diabetes mellitus is predominantly a metabolic disorder,

  • recent data suggest that it is as much a vascular disorder.
  • Cardiovascular complications are the leading cause
    • of death and disability in patients with diabetes mellitus.

A number of recent reports have emphasized that

  • many patients already have atherosclerosis in progression
  • at the time they are diagnosed with clinical evidence of diabetes mellitus.

The increased risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular complications in diabetic patients is related to

  • the frequently associated dyslipidemia, hypertension, hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and endothelial dysfunction.

The evolving knowledge regarding the variety of

  • metabolic,
  • hormonal, and
  • hemodynamic abnormalities in patients with diabetes mellitus

has led to efforts designed for early identification of individuals at risk of subsequent disease. It has been suggested that

  • insulin resistance, the key abnormality in type II diabetes,
  • often precedes clinical features of diabetes by 5–6 years.

Careful attention to the criteria described for the cardiovascular dysmetabolic syndrome

  • should help identify those at risk at an early stage.

The application of nonpharmacologic as well as newer emerging pharmacologic therapies can have beneficial effects

  • in individuals with cardiovascular dysmetabolic syndrome and/or diabetes mellitus
  • by improving insulin sensitivity and related abnormalities.

Early identification and implementation of appropriate therapeutic strategies would be necessary

  • to contain the emerging new epidemic of cardiovascular disease related to diabetes.

Part 4.   Waist circumference a good indicator of future risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease

Subjects: Public aspects of medicine, Medicine, Public Health, Health Sciences
Authors: Siren Reijo, Eriksson Johan G, Vanhanen Hannu
Publisher: BioMed Central      Date of publication: 2012 Aug
Published in: BMC Public Health 2012; 12: 1(631)    ISSN(s): 1471-2458   Added to DOAJ: 2013-03-12
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-12-631    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/12/631

Keywords: Waist circumference, Type 2 diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Middle-aged men

Background

Abdominal obesity is a more important risk factor than overall obesity in

  • predicting the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

From a preventive and public health point of view it is crucial that

  • risk factors are identified at an early stage,
  • in order to change and modify behaviour and lifestyle in high risk individuals.

Methods

Data from a community based study was used to assess

  • the risk for type 2 diabetes,
  • cardiovascular disease and
  • prevalence of metabolic syndrome in middle-aged men.

In order to identify those with increased risk for type 2 diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease

  • sensitivity and specificity analysis were performed, including
  • calculation of positive and negative predictive values, and
  • corresponding 95% CI for eleven different cut-off points,
    • with 1 cm intervals (92 to 102 cm), for waist circumference.

Results

A waist circumference ≥94 cm in middle-aged men,

  • identified those with increased risk for type 2 diabetes
  • and/or for cardiovascular disease

with a sensitivity of 84.4% (95% CI 76.4% to 90.0%), and a specificity of 78.2% (95% CI 68.4% to 85.5%). The positive predictive value was 82.9% (95% CI 74.8% to 88.8%), and negative predictive value 80.0% (95% CI 70.3% to 87.1%), respectively .

Conclusions

Measurement of waist circumference in middle-aged men

  • is a reliable test to identify individuals at increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

This measurement should be used more frequently in daily practice in primary care

  • in order to identify individuals at risk and when planning health counselling and interventions.

Part 5.  How to use C-reactive protein in acute coronary care

Luigi M. Biasucci, Wolfgang Koenig, Johannes Mair, Christian Mueller, Mario Plebani, Bertil Lindahl, Nader Rifai,Per Venge,Christian Hamm, and the Study Group on Biomarkers in Cardiology of the Acute Cardiovascular Care Association of the European Society of Cardiology
Department of Cardiology B, Aarhus University Hospital, Tage Hansens Gade2, Aarhus DK-8000,Denmark; Germany, U.K., U.S., Italy
European Heart Journal Advance Access published Nov 7, 2013.  Current Opinion.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/eht435

Introduction

 C-reactive protein (CRP) is an acute phase protein and an established marker for detection, risk stratification, and monitoring of infections, and inflammatory and necrotic processes.. Because C-reactive protein is sensitive but not specific, its values must be nterpreted  in the clinical context. Inpatients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), CRP increases within 4–6h of symptoms, peaks 2–4 days later,and returns to baseline after 7–10 days.

CRP has gained interest recently as a marker for risk stratification in acute coronary syndrome (ACS) when measured by high-sensitivity CRP assays. These assays have greater analytical sensitivity and reliably measure CRP concentrations within the reference range with low imprecision (5–10%). Because of evidence that atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease, high-sensitivity CRP can be used as a biomarker of risk
in primary prevention and in patients with known cardiovascular disease. The aim of this review is to evaluate the use of CRP in patients with acute coronary disease.

The in-vitro stability of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein is excellent. Specific blood sampling conditions aren’t necessary.  However, retesting may be necessary with some assays if there is marked lipaemia.  Baseline and subsequent measures are in good for agreement for risk stratification despite biological variability of 30–60%.

The upper reference limit is method-dependent but usually 8mg/L for standard assays. The distribution of high-sensitivity CRP concentrations is skewed in both genders with a 50th percentile of_1.5mg/L (excluding women on hormone replacement therapy). Race differences have been reported. Most studies have reported no relationship with age,  but to circadian and seasonal variation. CRP concentrations are increased by smoking, obesity, and hormone replacement therapy and reduced by exercise, moderate alcohol drinking, and statin use. Correction for these factors is essential in reference range studies. CRP assays are not standardized. We recommend  the use of third-generation high-sensitivity CRP assays that combine features of standard and high-sensitivity CRP assays.  Required assay precision should be < 10% in the range of 3 and 10 mg/L.

Biochemical and analytical issues

Critical clinical concepts

(1) CRP concentrations are reported in mg/L
(2) CRP test results are method-dependent

  •  classification of patients into risk categories is usually comparable
(3) Third generation CRP assay are recommended
(4) No specific patient preparation before blood sampling is necessary
(5) The in-vitro stability of CRP is high

This is only a portion of the published concensus document. What is relevant to this discussion is that the hs-CRP is an extremely valuable marker for inflammatory disease.  It is not ordered often enough because of the broad range of values that we have become accustomed to for years, and it is elevated in rheumatologic conditions, but even then, it is widely used in pediatrics because children may present with rapidly emergent sepsis with very minimal sympoms.
The hs-CRP has opened a window to subliminal inflammatory disease that is diabetes, with accompanied arteriolar endothelial inflammation.

Part 6.  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and glucose metabolism: a bitter sweet symphony

Subjects: Diseases of the circulatory (Cardiovascular) system,
Specialties of internal medicine, Internal medicine, Medicine, Cardiovascular, Medicine (General), Health Sciences
Authors: Mirrakhimov Aibek E
Publisher: BioMed Central      Date of publication: Oct 2012   ISSN(s): 1475-2840
Published in: Cardiovascular Diabetology 2012; 11(1):132   Added to DOAJ: 2013-03-12
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2840-11-132      http://www.cardiab.com/content/11/1/132

Keywords: COPD, Dysglycemia, Insulin resistance, Obesity, Metabolic syndrome, Diabetes mellitus endothelial dysfunction, Vasculopathy

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus

  • are common and underdiagnosed medical conditions.

It was predicted that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

  • will be the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2020.

The healthcare burden of this disease is even greater

  • if we consider the significant impact of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on
    • the cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

  • may be considered as a novel risk factor for new onset type 2 diabetes mellitus via

multiple pathophysiological alterations such as:

  1. inflammation and oxidative stress,
  2. insulin resistance,
  3. weight gain and
  4. alterations in metabolism of adipokines.

On the other hand, diabetes may act as an independent factor,

  • negatively affecting pulmonary structure and function.

Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of

  1. pulmonary infections,
  2. disease exacerbations and
  3. worsened COPD outcomes.

On the top of that, coexistent OSA

  • may increase the risk for type 2 DM in some individuals.

The current scientific data necessitate a greater outlook on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may be viewed as a risk factor for
  • the new onset type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Conversely, both types of diabetes mellitus should be viewed as

  • strong contributing factors for the development of obstructive lung disease.

Such approach can potentially improve the outcomes and medical control for both conditions,

  • and, thus, decrease the healthcare burden of these major medical problems.

CONCLUSIONS

This discussion  presents a spectrum of cardiovascular risk associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus, with high risk for CVD, stroke, endothelial dysfunction, and an association with obesity, measured by waist circumference, and an underlying proinflammatory state that can be measured by CRP.

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Burden of Depressive Disorders

Reviewer and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

 

This article is an important contribution to the literature on depression, substantiation the cardiovascular burden of depression on cardiovascular disease.

Burden of Depressive Disorders by Country, Sex, Age, and Year:Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010

AJ Ferrar*,FJ Charlson,RE Norman,SB Patten, G Freedman, CJL.Murray,T Vos

1Universityof Queensland, School of Population Health,Herston, Queensland, Au
2Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, Wacol, Queensland, Au
3University of Queensland, Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute,Herston,Queensland, Au
4Universityof Calgary, Department of Community Health Sciences,Calgary, Alberta, Ca
5University of Washington,Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle, Wash

Abstract

Background

Depressive disorders were a leading cause of burden in the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 1990 and 2000  studies. Here, we analyze the burden of depressive disorders in GBD 2010 and present severity proportions ,burden by country, region, age, sex, and year, as well as burden of depressive disorders as a risk factor fo rsuicide and ischemic heart disease.

Methods and Findings

Burden was calculated for major depressive disorder (MDD) and dysthymia. A systematic review of  epidemiological data was conducted. The data were pooled using a Bayesian meta-regression. Disability weights from population survey data

  • quantified the severity of health loss from depressive disorders.

These weights were used to calculate

  • years lived with disability (YLDs) and
  • disability adjusted life-years (DALYs).

Separate DALYs were estimated for

  • suicide and
  • ischemic heart disease

attributable to depressive disorders. Depressive disorders were the second leading cause of YLDs in 2010.

  • MDD accounted for 8.2% (5.9%–10.8%) of global YLDs and
  • dysthymia for 1.4% (0.9%–2.0%).

Depressive disorders were a leading cause of DALYs even though no mortality was attributed to them as the underlying cause.

  • MDD accounted for 2.5% (1.9%–3.2%) of global DALYs and
  • dysthymia for 0.5% (0.3%–0.6%).

There was more regional variation in burden for MDD than for dysthymia; with

  • higher estimates in females, and
  • adults of working age.

Whilst burden increased by 37.5% between 1990 and 2010, this was due to population growth and ageing. MDD explained

  • 16 million  suicide DALYs and
  • almost 4 million ischemic heart disease DALYs.

This attributable burden would increase the overall burden of depressive disorders from 3.0% (2.2%–3.8%) to 3.8% (3.0%–4.7%) of global DALYs.

Conclusions

GBD 2010 identified depressive disorders as a leading cause of burden. MDD was also a contributor of burden

  • allocated to suicide and ischemic heart disease.

These findings emphasize the importance of including depressive disorders as a public-health priority and

  • implementing cost-effective interventions to reduce its burden.

Please see later in the article for the Editors’ Summary.

Citation:Ferrari AJ, Charlson FJ, Norman RE, Patten SB, Freedman G,etal.(2013) Burden of Depressive Disorders by Country, Sex, Age, and Year: Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. PLoS Med 10(11):e1001547. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001547

Abbreviations: CRA, comparative risk assessment; DALY, disability adjusted life years; DSM, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; GBD, global burden of disease; ICD, International Classification of Diseases; MDD, major depressive disorder; MEPS, US Medical Expenditure Panel Survey; NESARC, US National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions 2000–2001 and 2004–2005; NSMHWB, Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Well being of Adults 1997; RR, relative risk; YLD, years lived with disability;YLL,years of life lost.

Figure1.YLDs by age and sex for MDD and dysthymia in 1990 and 2010.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001547.g001

Figure1.YLDsbyageandsexforMDDanddysthymiain1990and2010.

Figure2.YLD rates (per100,000) by region for MDD and dysthymia in 1990 and 2010. 95%UI, 95% uncertainty interval; AP-HI, Asia Pacific, high income; As-C, Asia Central; AS-E, Asia East; AS-S, Asia South;A-SE, Asia Southeast; Aus, Australasia; Caribb, Caribbean; Eur-C, Europe Central; Eur-E, Europe Eastern; Eur-W, Europe Western; LA-An, LatinAmerica, Andean; LA-C, Latin America, Central; LA-Sth, LatinAmerica, Southern; LA-Trop, Latin America, Tropical; Nafr-ME, NorthAfrica/MiddleEast; Nam-HI, North America, high income; Oc, Oceania; SSA-C, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central; SSA-E, Sub-Saharan Africa, East; SSA-S, Sub-Saharan Africa Southern; SSA-W, Sub-Saharan Africa,West.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001547.g002

Figure2. YLD rates (per100,000) by region for MDD and dysthymia in 1990 and 2010

Plot 1  age dtandardized YLD rates

Editors’ Summary

Background.

Depressive disorders are common mental disorders that occur in people of all ages across all world regions. Depression—an overwhelming feeling of sadness and hopelessness that can last for months or years—can make people feel that life is no longer worth living. People affected by depression lose interest in the activities they used to enjoy and can also be affected by physical symptoms such as disturbed sleep. Major depressive disorder (MDD, also known as clinical depression) is

  • an episodic disorder with a chronic (long-term) outcome and increased risk of death.

It involves at least one major depressive episode in which the affected individual experiences

  • a depressed mood almost all day, every day for at least 2 weeks.

Dysthymia is a milder, chronic form of depression that lasts for at least 2 years. People with dysthymia are often described as constantly unhappy. Both these subtypes of depression (and others such as that experienced in bipolar disorder) can be treated with antidepressant drugs and with talking therapies.

Why Was This Study Done? Depressive disorders were a  leading cause of disease burden in the 1990 and 2000 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) studies, collaborative scientific efforts that quantify the health loss attributable to

  • diseases and injuries in terms of disability adjusted life years (DALYs; one DALY represents the loss of a healthy year of life).

DALYs are calculated by adding together the years of life lived with a disability (YLD, a measure that includes a disability weight factor reflecting disease severity) and the years of life lost because of disorder-specific premature death. The GBD initiative aims

  • to provide data that can be used to improve public-health policy.

Thus, knowing that depressive disorders are a leading cause of disease burden worldwide has helped to prioritize depressive disorders in global public-health agendas. Here, the researchers analyze the burden of MDD and dysthymia in GBD 2010 by country, region, age, and sex, and

  • calculate the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease attributable to depressive disorders (depression is a risk factor for suicide and ischemic heart disease).

GBD 2010 is broader in scope than previous GBD studies and quantifies the direct burden of 291 diseases and injuries and the  burden attributable to 67 risk factors across 187 countries.

What Did the Researchers Do and Find? The researchers collected data on

  • the prevalence, incidence, remission rates, and duration of MDD and dysthymia and on deaths caused by these disorders from published articles.

They pooled these data using a statistical method called Bayesian meta-regression and calculated YLDs for MDD  and dysthymia using disability weights collected in population surveys. MDD accounted for 8.2% of global YLDs in 2010, making it the second leading cause of YLDs. Dysthymia accounted for 1.4% of global YLDs. MDD and dysthymia were also leading causes of DALYs, accounting for 2.5% and 0.5% of global DALYs, respectively. The regional variation in the burden was greater for MDD than for dysthymia, the  burden of depressive disorders was higher in women than men, the largest proportion of YLDs from depressive  disorders occurred among adults of working age, and the  global burden of depressive disorders increased by 37.5%  between 1990 and 2010 because of population growth and ageing. Finally, MDD explained an additional 16 million  DALYs and 4 million DALYs when it was considered as a risk factor for suicide and ischemic heart disease, respectively.  This ‘‘attributable’’ burden increased the overall burden of depressive disorders to 3.8% of global DALYs.

What Do These Findings Mean? These findings update and extend the information available from GBD 1990 and  2000 on the global burden of depressive disorders. They confirm that

  • depressive disorders are a leading direct cause of the global disease burden and show that
  • MDD also contributes to the burden allocated to suicide and ischemic heart disease.

The estimates of the global burden of depressive disorders reported in GBD 2010 are likely to be more accurate than those in previous GBD studies but are  limited by factors such as the sparseness of data on depressive disorders from developing countries and, consequently,

  • the validity of the disability weights used to calculate YLDs.

Even so, these findings reinforce the importance of treating  depressive disorders as a public-health priority and

  • of implementing cost-effective interventions to reduce their  ubiquitous burden.

Additional Information. Please access these websites via  the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001547.

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Food Insecurity in Africa and GMOs

Reporter and Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP 

 

This Report is a presentation from several articles since mid-2013 on the food shortage in Sub-Saharan Africa, where crop yields are among the lowest in the worlds.  In this series we have presented modiable  and epigenetic causes of CVD, among other topics, including diabetes, obesity, and exercise.  We have mentioned that while magnesium, fiber, a sufficient source of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (from seafood or seaweed, or from flaxseed), and a functional methyl transporter as well as a source of methionine ( which requires a meat source, as B9 folate is plant sourced and does not fix the problem).  In this discussion we have both a voluntary and an involuntary course of living that leads to CVD and brain dysfunction, depending on where one lives, a “perfect storm”.

Part 1.  Tensions over Food Insecurity in Africa   Oct 8, 2013

Sharon Schmickle

Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural yields are among the lowest in the world, and nearly one-third of its people are malnourished. That much, tragically, is well established. Less clear are the reasons Africa’s farm output remains depressed despite hands-on work and billions of dollars invested by individuals, organizations and governments. News reports often explore specific aspects of the problem such as drought. This series takes the novel approach of looking at intertwined tensions underlying the many problems. Through stories told across the continent, Sharon Schmickle focus on several key themes:

  • Africa is caught in an ideological struggle over the nature and scope of agriculture with European—and, sometimes, American—organizations pitted against agribusiness and many agricultural scientists.
  • Institutions have failed African farmers. Public and private agencies often work at cross purposes, neglecting to follow through on crop-saving opportunities. Investments in research and agricultural extension have been inadequate.

Scientists have made impressive gains against the scourges that threaten crops. But they risk losing their breakthroughs against malnutrition, crop-destroying pests and drought if they overlook local tastes and customs.

The series, which also incorporates the work of local journalists, begins with an overview of Tanzania where government officials are divided in the global ideological standoff. Despite a government initiative called Kilimo Kwanza (Farmers First), many farmers lack access to the improved seeds and tissue cultures that could help them thwart yield-stealing diseases and pests. And many farmers are so locked into practices of the past that change comes hard if at all.

This narrative is not twisted to an anti-GMO slant, and could be viewed as a need for GMO harvests without the independence to develop them, and the struggle against a powerful industrial source that takes from an impoverished people.

Sharon Schmickle has been a journalist for MinnPost.com since 2007, and before that she worked for the Minneapolis Star Tribune where she reported from the paper’s Washington bureau…

http://pulitzercenter.org/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_cropped/public/09-16-13/1382/lunch_line_at_engaruka_primary_school_0.jpg

Roiling tensions underlie efforts to improve food security in Africa, often pulling at cross purposes on farmers, consumers and their countries.

Tanzania: Mixed Feelings on Genetically Modified Crops
Tanzania faces the question of whether food from GM crops will sell at markets like this one in Dar es Salaam. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Tanzania, 2013.

Part 2.  Nathanael Johnson lets the anti-GMO movement off the hook

By MICHAEL EISEN | Published: JAN 10, 2014

For the last six months, Nathanael Johnson has been writing about GMOs for the lefty environmental magazine Grist. The goal of his ultimately 26 part series was to try and bring some journalistic sanity to a topic that has gotten nasty in recent years. As Grist editor Scott Rosenberg is quoted on Dan Charles’ blog:
GMOs “were a unique problem for us,” says Rosenberg. On the one hand, most of Grist’s readers and supporters despise GMOs, seeing them as a tool of corporate agribusiness and chemical-dependent farming.

On the other hand, says Rosenberg, he’d been struck by the passion of people who defended this technology, especially scientists. It convinced him that the issue deserved a fresh look.

I’ve enjoyed reading the series. Johnson has investigated a wide range of issues related to GMOs with a generally empirical eye – trying to find data to help answer questions, while avoiding the polemicism that dominates discussions of the topic. Although I don’t think everything he has written is right, the series is a very useful starting point for people trying to wrap the heads around what can be a complex topic. He has clearly tried to delve deeply into every topic, and to not let dogma or propaganda from either side affect his conclusions.

Unfortunately, if the series has had an effect on what I presume is its target audience – the anti-GMO readers of Grist – it hasn’t shown up in online debates about GMOs. When I and others have pointed to Johnson’s series in response to outrageous statements from anti-GMO campaigners, he is dismissed as either a naive fool or just another Monsanto tool.

So I was surprised to read his concluding piece in the series, “What I learned from six months of GMO research: None of it matters“.

The most astonishing thing about the vicious public brawl over GMOs is that the stakes are so low.

His basic point is that a lot of hot air and political energy is spent trying to decide between two alternative futures that aren’t all that different.

In the GMO-free future, farming still looks pretty much the same. Without insect-resistant crops, farmers spray more broad-spectrum insecticides, which do some collateral damage to surrounding food webs. Without herbicide-resistant crops, farmers spray less glyphosate, which slows the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds and perhaps leads to healthier soil biota. Farmers also till their fields more often, which kills soil biota, and releases a lot more greenhouse gases.

The banning of GMOs hasn’t led to a transformation of agriculture because GM seed was never a linchpin supporting the conventional food system: Farmers could always do fine without it. Eaters no longer worry about the small potential threat of GMO health hazards, but they are subject to new risks: GMOs were neither the first, nor have they been the last, agricultural innovation, and each of these technologies comes with its own potential hazards. Plant scientists will have increased their use of mutagenesis and epigenetic manipulation, perhaps. We no longer have biotech patents, but we still have traditional seed-breeding patents. Life goes on.

In the other alternate future, where the pro-GMO side wins, we see less insecticide, more herbicide, and less tillage. In this world, with regulations lifted, a surge of small business and garage-biotechnologists got to work on creative solutions for the problems of agriculture.

Genetic engineering is just one tool in the tinkerer’s belt. Newer tools are already available, and scientists continue to make breakthroughs with traditional breeding. So in this future, a few more genetically engineered plants and animals get their chance to compete. Some make the world a little better, while others cause unexpected problems. But the science has moved beyond basic genetic engineering, and most of the risks and benefits of progress are coming from other technologies. Life goes on.

In many ways he’s right. GMOs on the market today – and most of the ones planned – are about making agriculture more efficient and profitable for farmers and seed providers. This is not a trivial thing, but would global agriculture collapse without these GMOs? Of course not.

We rarely see transformative technologies coming. And remember that we are still in the very early days of genetic engineering of crops and animals. I suspect that you could go back and look at the early days of almost any new technology and convincingly downplay its transformative potential.

Most new technologies ultimately fail to deliver. But the proper stance to take is to say that we just don’t know. What we do know is that there are many pressing and complex problems facing the future of agriculture. And, given that there is no compelling reason not to allow GM techniques to proceed, why take this tool out of the hands of scientists?

People care about GMOs because they symbolize corporate control of the food system, or unsustainable agriculture, or the basic unhealthiness of our modern diet. On the other side, people care about GMOs because they symbolize the victory of human ingenuity over hunger and suffering, or the triumph of market forces, or the wonder of science.

What is most disturbing about the GMO debate – and why it matters – is that the anti-GMO movement at almost every turn rejects empiricism as a means of understanding the world and making decisions about it. GMO opponents have largely rejected Johnson and his series.

They do not appear to believe that the kind of questions that Johnson asks – “Does insect resistant corn reduce the amount of insecticide used on farms?” – can even be asked. They already know the answer, and are completely unmoved by evidence.

The world faces so many challenges now, and we can only solve them if we believe that the world can be understood by studying it, that we can think up and generate possible solutions to the challenges we face, and that we can make rational decisions about which ones to use or not to use.

– See more at: http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=1530#sthash.GVFidZev.dpuf

Part 3.  Africa: Context is Crucial to Seeing Challenge of Hunger

October 17, 2013 / Des Moines Register
http://pulitzercenter.org/sites/default/files/styles/slideshow/public/10-16-13/farmerprocessingmilkintobutter640.jpg

Women farmers are processing more of their milk. Image by Sharon Schmickle. Tanzania, 2013.

To understand food security in sub-Saharan Africa, context is crucial. Some 500 million small farms feed 80 percent of the people who live in regions that are perilously close to hunger.
Published Oct 17, 2013  SHARON SCHMICKLE

Iowans who take in this year’s World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines can gain a wealth of expert perspectives on the important challenge of nourishing a growing world population during the next century.
Learning the full measure of the challenge, though, calls for reaching beyond the lectures and panel discussions — reaching into the local reasons it has been so difficult to achieve global food security.
Context is crucial in a world where some 500 million small farms feed 80 percent of the people who live in regions that are perilously close to hunger.
To visit farms in those regions is to learn why it has been so difficult to stand up to the moral challenge the late Norman Borlaug delivered time and again, insisting that access to adequate food is a basic human right.
It is to meet female farmers like Sharifa Said Nambanga, who struggles to feed five children with the rice she can grow on a small plot in Zanzibar. Women do a hefty share of the farm work around the world. Often, though, they are shut off from the extension services that should deliver improved seeds, fertilizer and the know-how to use agriculture’s modern methods. Feeling abandoned, they limp along as best they can on their own.
It is to meet pastoralists like Parmelo Ndiimu. He is a Maasai elder who watches helplessly while the trees he needs to feed his goats are cut to make charcoal for cooking in urban kitchens. “If we won’t be able to feed our goats, we will not be able to feed our children,” Ndiimu said. “And we will be gone.”
It is to meet Tanzanian farmers who work their small plots throughout a full growing season only to see weevils destroy half their bean harvest. They know firsthand the tension between farmers and the ever evolving pests that attack crops in the field and after harvest.
It is to see corn planted from family seed wither in the field, stalks barren and green leaves giving way to limp yellow strips. Theoretically, the simple remedy should be improved seeds. But nothing is simple in the process of getting those improved seeds to small-scale farmers, especially when the improvement involved genetic modification of the plants.
In his later years, Borlaug addressed context in sub-Saharan Africa, recognizing that along with improved seed, farmers also needed to knock down barriers in their marketing, storage and processing systems. He challenged African leaders to invest more in agriculture.
Within that framework, it is clear that millions of small-scale farmers — especially those in Africa — operate amid tensions that limit their opportunities to extract more food from the technology that has filled porridge bowls and bread baskets elsewhere.

Part 4. Betting on the Impact of Synthetic Biology In Healthcare – By Jenny Rooke

Jenny Rooke drives innovation in the life sciences field through investing and business building around brilliant scientists and engineers with novel technologies. Prior, Jenny held multiple executive roles at U.S. Genomics.

I am an ardent believer in the potential of synthetic biology – its technologies, methods, and talented practitioners – to transform human life on just about every dimension: What we eat, how we make things, the character of our environment and how we move through it, how we are born, and, eventually, how long we live.

My more circumspect investor side is forced to admit that the evidence base of practical (not to mention profitable) applications of synthetic biology remains, shall we say, a work in progress. The first wave of synthetic biology companies that focused on energy/biofuels has been largely disappointing commercially, despite some notable technical successes, due in part to challenges related to scale-up, feedstock economics, and distribution.

It seems reasonable to search for proof cases of synthetic biology’s utility in human health; after all, the vast majority of biotechnology’s impact to date (practically and financially) has been in healthcare, including the creation of entirely novel categories of therapeutics and molecular diagnostics.

To be fair, it’s early yet to expect too many synthetic biology success stories in medicine. Synthetic biology as a field is just over a decade old and if it takes on average a decade for a new drug to move from the lab to the market, well, the math is obvious. In addition, there remain a great deal of technical, clinical, and safety risk inherent to applying synthetic biology technologies to human health problems (consider the painful lessons from the analogous field of gene therapy). This helps explain the reluctance of incumbent healthcare companies and traditional healthcare investors to make big bets on synthetic biology until the technology’s practical utility is more proven.

In 2011 and 2012, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation put out a call for grant applications to “Apply Synthetic Biology to Global Health Challenges” under its Global Health division, which aims to harness advances in science and technology to save lives in developing countries. The foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations, or GCE, program is an ideal mechanism for fostering applications of synthetic biology.

Synthetic biology will play a critical role in enabling novel, affordable healthcare solutions for developing countries. Image source: GrandChallenges.org

For more information on the Grand Challenges in Global Health program, including a brief description of each project and a discussion of observed themes, see the review article “Synthetic biology as a source of global health innovation” (Syst Synth Biol (2013) 7:67–72).

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