Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category

MECHANISM DISCOVERED FOR HEALTH BENEFIT OF GREEN TEA

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

One of the beneficial compounds found in green tea has a powerful ability to increase the number of “regulatory T cells” that play a key role in immune function and suppression of autoimmune disease, according to new research in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. This may be one of the underlying mechanisms for the health benefits of green tea, which has attracted wide interest for its ability to help control inflammation, improve immune function and prevent cancer.

Emily Ho
Emily Ho
Associate Professor
Principal Investigator
Linus Pauling Institute
Photo: oregonstate.edu

Pharmaceutical drugs are available that perform similar roles and have been the subject of much research, scientists say, but they have problems with toxicity. A natural food product might provide a long term, sustainable way to accomplish this same goal without toxicity, researchers said.

“This appears to be a natural, plant-derived compound that can affect the number of regulatory T cells, and in the process improve immune function,” said Emily Ho, an LPI principal investigator and associate professor in the OSU Department of Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.

“When fully understood, this could provide an easy and safe way to help control autoimmune problems and address various diseases,” Ho said.

The findings have been published in Immunology Letters, a professional journal.

There are many types of cells that have different roles in the immune system, which is a delicate balancing act of attacking unwanted invaders without damaging normal cells. In autoimmune diseases, which can range from simple allergies to juvenile diabetes or even terminal conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, this process goes awry and the body mistakenly attacks itself.

Some cells exist primarily to help control that problem and dampen or “turn off” the immune system, including regulatory T cells. The number and proper function of those regulatory T cells, in turn, is regulated by other biological processes such as transcription factors and DNA methylation.

In this study, OSU scientists did experiments with a compound in green tea, a polyphenol called EGCG, which is believed to be responsible for much of its health benefits and has both anti-inflammatory and anticancer characteristics. They found it could cause a higher production of regulatory T cells. Its effects were not as potent as some of those produced by prescription drugs, but it also had few concerns about long-term use or toxicity.

“EGCG may have health benefits through an epigenetic mechanism, meaning we aren’t changing the underlying DNA codes, but just influencing what gets expressed, what cells get turned on,” Ho said. “And we may be able to do this with a simple, whole-food approach.”

Laboratory studies done with mice, Ho said, showed that treatment with EGCG significantly increased the numbers and frequencies of regulatory T cells found in spleen and lymph notes, and in the process helped to control the immune response.

“Epigenetic regulation can be potentially exploited in generating suppressive regulatory T cells for therapeutic purposes, and is of significant clinical importance for the suppression of autoimmune diseases,” the researchers said in their study.

The research was done by scientists from OSU, the University of Connecticut, and Changwon National University in South Korea. The work was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station.

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CANADIAN MAPLE SYRUP - NEXT SUPER FOOD?

Friday, April 1st, 2011

New York, NY

There’s more good news about pure maple syrup from the University of Rhode Island (URI). Researchers there have now identified 54 compounds in maple syrup from Canada, double the amount previously reported, and many with antioxidant activity and potential health benefits. In laboratory studies, they acted as anti cancer and anti inflammatory agents. Initial studies also suggest that maple compounds may inhibit enzymes relevant in Type 2 diabetes management.

Dr. Navindra Seeram
Dr. Navindra Seeram
Assistant pharmacy
professor at URI
Photo: uri.edu

These new findings were presented on March 30th at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, CA, during a day long session exclusively examining the bioactive compounds found in natural sweeteners. The session was organized and chaired by Dr. Navindra Seeram, assistant pharmacy professor at URI and a lead scientist on the maple syrup research team.

According to the URI research team, maple syrup contains a cocktail of polyphenol compounds, several with antioxidant properties and many with well documented health benefits. “We found a wide variety of polyphenols in maple syrup,” said Seeram. “It is a one stop shop for these beneficial compounds, several of which are also found in berries, tea, red wine and flaxseed, just to name a few,” Seeram continued. “Not all sweeteners are created equal. When choosing a sweetener, pure maple syrup may be a better choice because of the range of antioxidant compounds not found in other sweeteners.”

Maple syrup may prove to be relevant in Type 2 diabetes management, although the findings must be verified in clinical trials. “We discovered that the polyphenols in maple syrup inhibit enzymes that are involved in the conversion of carbohydrate to sugar,” said Seeram. “In fact, in preliminary studies maple syrup had a greater enzyme inhibiting effect compared to several other healthy plant foods such as berries, when tested on a dry weight basis. By 2050, one in three people will be afflicted with Type 2 diabetes and more and more people are looking for healthier diets, so finding a potential anti-diabetic compound in maple syrup is interesting for the scientific community and the consumer,” said Seeram.

Five of the 54 antioxidants in maple syrup were identified for the first time in nature, and are unique to the natural sweetener. Among the five new compounds never before identified, one polyphenol is of particular interest. Given the common name of Quebecol, in honor of the province of Quebec, this compound is created during the process of boiling down maple sap into maple syrup. “We don’t know yet whether the new compounds contribute to the healthy profile of maple syrup, but we do know that the sheer quantity and variety of identified compounds with documented health benefits qualifies maple syrup as a champion food,” commented Seeram, whose findings have recently been published in the Journal of Functional Foods. Dr. Seeram’s work at URI is supported by a grant funded by The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, in conjunction with the Conseil pour le developpement de l’agriculture du Quebec (CDAQ) and Agriculture and Agri Food Canada (AAFC) on behalf of the Canadian Maple Syrup Industry.

Attendees at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting also heard promising results from other Canadian researchers who are studying the health benefits of maple syrup. “Part of our New Generation of Maple 2020 strategy is to work with talented scientists to discover and share more knowledge about maple syrup. We are excited that this line of research receives interest from all over the world,” says Serge Beaulieu, President of the Federation and member of the Canadian Maple Industry Advisory Committee. Genevieve Beland, Marketing Director for the Federation, adds “Maple is the most important food derived from the pure sap of trees, and given its amazing potential for human health and great nutritional value, it is a natural choice for a healthy lifestyle.” The Federation’s members produce about 80 percent of the worldwide supply of the natural sweetener.

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RESEARCHER LISTS MORE THAN 4,000 COMPONENTS OF BLOOD CHEMISTRY

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Edmonton, Alberta - Feb. 24, 2011
After three years of exhaustive analysis led by a University of Alberta researcher, the list of known compounds in human blood has exploded from just a handful to more than 4,000. “Right now a medical doctor analyzing the blood of an ailing patient looks at something like 10 to 20 chemicals,” said U of A biochemist David Wishart. “We’ve identified 4,229 blood chemicals that doctors can potentially look at to diagnose and treat health problems.”

Hannah Gardener, Sc.D.
Dr. David Wishart
University of Alberta
biochemist
Photo: ualberta.ca

Blood chemicals, or metabolites, are routinely analyzed by doctors to diagnose conditions like diabetes and kidney failure. Wishart says the new research opens up the possibility of diagnosing hundreds of other diseases that are characterized by an imbalance in blood chemistry.

Wishart led more than 20 researchers at six different institutions using modern technology to validate past research, and the team also conducted its own lab experiments to break new ground on the content of human blood chemistry.

“This is the most complete chemical characterization of blood ever done,” said Wishart. “We now know the normal values of all the detectable chemicals in blood. Doctors can use these measurements as a reference point for monitoring a patient’s current and even future health.”

Wishart says blood chemicals are the “canary in the coal mine,” for catching the first signs of an oncoming medical problem. “The blood chemistry is the first thing to change when a person is developing a dangerous condition like high cholesterol.”

The database created by Wishart and his team is open access, meaning anyone can log on and find the expanded list of blood chemicals. Wishart says doctors can now tap into the collected wisdom of hundreds of blood research projects done in the past by researchers all over the world. “With this new database doctors can now link a specific abnormality in hundreds of different blood chemicals with a patient’s specific medical problem,” said Wishart.

Wishart believes the adoption of his research will happen slowly, with hospitals incorporating new search protocols and equipment for a few hundred of the more than 4,000 blood-chemistry markers identified by Wishart and his colleagues.

“People have being studying blood for more than 100 years,” said Wishart. “By combining research from the past with our new findings we have moved the science of blood chemistry from a keyhole view of the world to a giant picture window.”

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EATING HEALTHIER MEANS LIVING LONGER

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

St. Louis, MO - December 22, 2010
According to new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The leading causes of death have shifted from infectious diseases to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. These illnesses may be affected by diet. In a study published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers investigated empirical data regarding the associations of dietary patterns with mortality through analysis of the eating patterns of over 2500 adults between the ages of 70 and 79 over a ten year period. They found that diets favoring certain foods were associated with reduced mortality.

By 2030, an estimated 973 million adults will be aged 65 or older worldwide. The objective of this study was to determine the dietary patterns of a large and diverse group of older adults, and to explore associations of these dietary patterns with survival over a 10 year period. A secondary goal was to evaluate participants’ quality of life and nutritional status according to their dietary patterns.

By determining the consumption frequency of 108 different food items, researchers were able to group the participants into six different clusters according to predominant food choices:

* “Healthy foods” (374 participants)
* “High-fat dairy products” (332)
* “Meat, fried foods, and alcohol” (693)
* “Breakfast cereal” (386)
* “Refined grains” (458)
* “Sweets and desserts” (339)

The “Healthy foods” cluster was characterized by relatively higher intake of low fat dairy products, fruit, whole grains, poultry, fish, and vegetables, and lower consumption of meat, fried foods, sweets, high calorie drinks, and added fat. The “High fat dairy products” cluster had higher intake of foods such as ice cream, cheese, and 2% and whole milk and yogurt, and lower intake of poultry, low fat dairy products, rice, and pasta.

The study was unique in that it evaluated participants’ quality of life and nutritional status, through detailed biochemical measures, according to their dietary patterns. After controlling for gender, age, race, clinical site, education, physical activity, smoking, and total calorie intake, the “High fat dairy products” cluster had a 40% higher risk of mortality than the “Healthy foods” cluster. The “Sweets and desserts” cluster had a 37% higher risk. No significant differences in risk of mortality were seen between the “Healthy foods” cluster and the “Breakfast cereal” or “Refined grains” clusters.

According to lead author Amy L. Anderson, Ph.D., Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland, the “results of this study suggest that older adults who follow a dietary pattern consistent with current guidelines to consume relatively high amounts of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low fat dairy products, poultry and fish, may have a lower risk of mortality. Because a substantial percentage of older adults in this study followed the “Healthy foods” dietary pattern, adherence to such a diet appears a feasible and realistic recommendation for potentially improved survival and quality of life in the growing older adult population.”

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ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES COULD POSE HEALTH RISKS

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Riverside, Calif. - December 3, 2010
Safety evaluation of e-cigarettes is urgently needed, researchers say.

Prudence Talbot
Prudence Talbot
Professor of Cell Biology
Director, UCR Stem Cell
Center and Stem Cell Core Facility
Photo: ucr.com

Electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes), also called “electronic nicotine delivery systems,” are increasingly used worldwide even though only sparse information is available on their health effects. In the United States, e-cigarettes are readily available in shopping malls in most states and on the Internet. But how safe are e-cigarettes?

To address this question, researchers at the University of California, Riverside evaluated five e-cigarette brands and found design flaws, lack of adequate labeling, and several concerns about quality control and health issues. They conclude that e-cigarettes are potentially harmful and urge regulators to consider removing e-cigarettes from the market until their safety is adequately evaluated.

Unlike conventional cigarettes, which burn tobacco, e-cigarettes vaporize nicotine, along with other compounds present in the cartridge, in the form of aerosol created by heating, but do not produce the thousands of chemicals and toxicants created by tobacco combustion. Nothing is known, however, about the chemicals present in the aerosolized vapors emanating from e-cigarettes.

“As a result, some people believe that e-cigarettes are a safe substitute for conventional cigarettes,” said Prue Talbot, the director of UC Riverside’s Stem Cell Center, whose lab led the research. “However, there are virtually no scientific studies on e-cigarettes and their safety. Our study - one of the first studies to evaluate e-cigarettes - shows that this product has many flaws, which could cause serious public health problems in the future if the flaws go uncorrected.”

Study results appear in this month’s issue of Tobacco Control.

Talbot, a professor of cell biology and neuroscience, was joined in the study by Anna Trtchounian, the first author of the research paper. Together, they examined the design, accuracy and clarity of labeling, nicotine content, leakiness, defective parts, disposal, errors in filling orders, instruction manual quality and advertizing for the following brands of e-cigarettes: NJOY, Liberty Stix, Crown Seven (Hydro), Smoking Everywhere (Gold and Platinum) and VapCigs.

Their main observations are that:

- Batteries, atomizers, cartridges, cartridge wrappers, packs and instruction manuals lack important information regarding e-cigarette content, use and essential warnings.

- E-cigarette cartridges leak, which could expose nicotine, an addictive and dangerous chemical, to children, adults, pets and the environment.

- Currently, there are no methods for proper disposal of e-cigarettes products and accessories, including cartridges, which could result in nicotine contamination from discarded cartridges entering water sources and soil, and adversely impacting the environment.

- The manufacture, quality control, sales, and advertisement of e-cigarettes are unregulated.

Electronic cigarette
e-cigarette fluid leaking
out of a cartridge,
making it difficult to
handle without touching
the nicotine solution.
Photo: ucr.com

The study was funded by a grant to Talbot from the University of California Tobacco Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP).

“More research on e-cigarettes is crucially needed to protect the health of e-cigarette users and even those who do not use e-cigarettes,” said Kamlesh Asotra, a research administrator at UC TRDRP. “Contrary to the claims of the manufacturers and marketers of e-cigarettes being ’safe,’ in fact, virtually nothing is known about the toxicity of the vapors generated by these e-cigarettes. Until we know any thing about the potential health risks of the toxins generated upon heating the nicotine-containing content of the e-cigarette cartridges, the ’safety’ claims of the manufactureres are dubious at best.

“Justifiably, more information about the potential toxic and health effects of e-cigarette vapors is necessary before the public can have a definitive answer about the touted safety of e-cigarettes. Hopefully, in the near future, scientists can provide firm evidence for or against the claimed ’safety’ of e-cigarettes as a nicotine-delivery tool.”

UC TRDRP supports research that focuses on the prevention, causes, and treatment of tobacco related disease and the reduction of the human and economic costs of tobacco use in California.

______________________ ABOUT ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES

E-cigarettes consist of a battery, a charger, a power cord, an atomizer, and a cartridge containing nicotine and propylene glycol. When a smoker draws air through an e-cigarette, an airflow sensor activates the battery that turns the tip of the cigarette red to simulate smoking and heats the atomizer to vaporize the propylene glycol and nicotine. Upon inhalation, the aerosol vapor delivers a dose of nicotine into the lungs of the smoker, after which, residual aerosol is exhaled into the environment.

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MCMASTER SCIENTISTS TURN SKIN INTO BLOOD

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Hamilton, Ontario - November 7, 2010
Making blood from skin does not require the middle step of changing a skin stem cell into a pluripotent stem.

Mick Bhatia
Mick Bhatia
Scientific director of the
McMaster Stem Cell and
Cancer Research Institute
Photo: mcmaster.ca

In an important breakthrough, scientists at McMaster University have discovered how to make human blood from adult human skin.

The discovery, published in the prestigious science journal Nature today, could mean that in the foreseeable future people needing blood for surgery, cancer treatment or treatment of other blood conditions like anemia will be able to have blood created from a patch of their own skin to provide transfusions. Clinical trials could begin as soon as 2012.

Mick Bhatia, scientific director of McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, and his team of researchers have also shown that the conversion is direct. Making blood from skin does not require the middle step of changing a skin stem cell into a pluripotent stem cell that could make many other types of human cells, then turning it into a blood stem cell.

“We have shown this works using human skin. We know how it works and believe we can even improve on the process,” said Bhatia. “We’ll now go on to work on developing other types of human cell types from skin, as we already have encouraging evidence.”

The discovery was replicated several times over two years using human skin from both young and old people to prove it works for any age of person.

John Kelton, hematologist and dean and vice-president of health sciences for McMaster University said: “I find this discovery personally gratifying for professional reasons. During my 30 years as a practicing blood specialist, my colleagues and I have been pleased to help care for cancer patients whose lives were saved by bone marrow transplants. For all physicians, but especially for the patients and their families, the illness became more frustrating when we were prevented from giving a bone marrow transplant because we could not find a perfect donor match in the family or the community. “Dr. Bhatia’s discovery could permit us to help this important group of patients.”

__________________

“CIHR is proud to invest in the excellent research that is being undertaken by Mick Bhatia’s laboratory at the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute at McMaster University,” said Alain Beaudet, president of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

__________________

“The Bhatia research effort is building on significant findings in recent years, which have shown that human skin cells can be reprogrammed into pluripotent cells that have the potential to become all cell types. “The pioneering findings published today are the first to demonstrate that human skin cells can be directly converted into blood cells, via a programming process that bypasses the pluripotent stage. Producing blood from a patient’s own skin cells, has the potential of making bone marrow transplant HLA matching and paucity of donors a thing of the past.”

Cynthia Dunbar, MD, Head, Molecular Hematopoiesis Section, Hematology Branch, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

__________________

“Bhatia’s convincing demonstration that skin cells can be directly converted to hematopoietic progenitor cells is exciting and will immediately change the paradigms regarding the best way forward for production of hematopoietic cells to be used in regenerative medicine and in the study of human blood diseases,” said Cynthia Dunbar, head of the molecular hematopoiesis section of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S.

__________________

“Bhatia’s approach detours around the pluripotent stem cell stage and thus avoids many safety issues, increases efficiency, and also has the major benefit of producing adult-type l blood cells instead of fetal blood cells, a major advantage compared to the thus far disappointing attempts to produce blood cells from human ESCs or IPSCs.” Christine Williams, PhD, Director of Research, Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada.

__________________

“This groundbreaking work from Mick Bhatia’s lab is both fascinating and important. It heralds a new age by discovering a role for ‘directed differentiation’ in the treatment of cancers and other disorders of the blood and immune system,” said Sam Weiss, professor and director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary.

>>>>>Read all the latest in our HeartVigor.com News Page.

FLOW OF EMPTY CALORIES INTO CHILDREN’S FOOD SUPPLY MUST BE REDUCED

Friday, October 1st, 2010

St. Louis, MO, October 1, 2010
According to new study published by leading nutrition experts.

With over 23 million children and adolescents in the US overweight or obese, the risks for many chronic diseases continue to increase. An article in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association examines the diets of American youth and finds some disturbing results.

“The epidemic of obesity among children and adolescents is now widely regarded as one of the most important public health problems in the US,” commented Jill Reedy, PhD, MPH, RD, and Susan M. Krebs-Smith, PhD, MPH, RD, both of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD. “Most experts agree that the solution will involve changes in both diet and physical activity, in order to affect energy balance. For diet, this means a reduction in energy from current consumption levels…This paper identifies the major sources of overall energy and empty calories, providing context for dietary guidance that could specifically focus on limiting calories from these sources and for changes in the food environment. Product reformulation alone is not sufficient - the flow of empty calories into the food supply must be reduced.”

For 2-18 year olds, the top sources of energy were grain desserts, pizza, and soda. Sugar sweetened beverages (soda and fruit drinks combined) provided almost 10% of total calories consumed. Nearly 40% of total calories consumed by 2 to 18 year olds were in the form of empty calories from solid fat and from added sugars. Half of empty calories came from six foods: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.

Researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative survey with a complex multistage, stratified probability sample. Trained interviewers conducted in person 24 hour dietary recalls with all eligible persons, using automated data collection systems that included multiple passes. Calories from solid fats and added sugars were calculated from the USDA MyPyramid Equivalents Database (MPED). Empty calories were defined as the sum of energy from solid fats and added sugars.

Children of different ages get their energy from different sources. For example, the top five sources of energy for 2 to 3 year olds included whole milk, fruit juice, reduced fat milk, and pasta and pasta dishes. Pasta and reduced fat milk were also among the top five sources of energy for 4 to 8 year olds. Top contributors of energy also varied by race/ethnicity. For example, major contributors for 2 to 18 year old non Hispanic blacks included fruit drinks and pasta and pasta dishes, while Mexican Americans’ top sources included Mexican mixed dishes and whole milk. Non Hispanic blacks and whites consumed more energy from sugar sweetened beverages (combining soda and fruit drinks) than from milk (combining all milks), whereas Mexican Americans consumed more energy from milk than from sugar sweetened beverages.

In an accompanying commentary, Rae-Ellen W. Kavey, MD, MPH, University of Rochester Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Cardiology, Rochester, NY, discusses the role of sugar-sweetened beverages in the development of obesity in childhood.

Dr. Kavey writes, “High added sugar consumption which occurs most commonly in the form of sugar sweetened beverages is associated with a constellation of cardiovascular risk factors, both independently, and through the development of obesity. Multiple studies have shown that presence of these risk factors in childhood is associated with accelerated atherosclerosis and early cardiovascular disease. Randomized trials of nutritionist-guided interventions show us that diet change can be accomplished and is associated with important cardiovascular benefits. This combined body of evidence suggests that reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages should be considered a critical dietary approach to reducing cardiovascular risk in childhood.”

A study of how school vending machines can influence the dietary choices of students is presented in the same issue. Researchers from the CDC and the Florida Department of Health found that the availability of vending machines in middle schools was associated with buying snacks or beverages from vending machines instead of buying school lunches. They also found that although healthier choices were available in school vending machines, the most common choices by students were less healthy snacks and beverages.

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INGREDIENT IN RED WINE MAY PREVENT SOME BLINDING DISEASES

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Resveratrol - found in red wine, grapes, blueberries, peanuts and other plants - stops out of control blood vessel growth in the eye, according to vision researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Rajendra S. Apte MD,PhD
Rajendra S. Apte MD,PhD

The discovery has implications for preserving vision in blinding eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in Americans over 50.

The formation of new blood vessels, called angiogenesis, also plays a key role in certain cancers and in atherosclerosis. Conducting experiments in mouse retinas, the researchers found that resveratrol can inhibit angiogenesis. Another surprise was the pathway through which resveratrol blocked angiogenesis. The findings are reported in the July issue of the American Journal of Pathology.

“A great deal of research has identified resveratrol as an anti aging compound, and given our interest in age related eye disease, we wanted to find out whether there was a link,” says Washington University retina specialist Rajendra S. Apte, MD, PhD, the study’s senior investigator. “There were reports on resveratrol’s effects on blood vessels in other parts of the body, but there was no evidence that it had any effects within the eye.”

The investigators studied mice that develop abnormal blood vessels in the retina after laser treatment. Apte’s team found that when the mice were given resveratrol, the abnormal blood vessels began to disappear.

Examining the blood-vessel cells in the laboratory, they identified a pathway - known as a eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase (eEF2) regulated pathway - that was responsible for the compound’s protective effects. That was a surprise because past research involving resveratrol’s anti aging effects had implicated a different mechanism that these experiments showed not to be involved.

“We have identified a novel pathway that could become a new target for therapies,” Apte says. “And we believe the pathway may be involved both in age related eye disease and in other diseases where angiogenesis plays a destructive role.”

Previous research into resveratrol’s influence on aging and obesity had identified interactions between the red wine compound and a group of proteins called sirtuins. Those proteins were not related to resveratrol’s effects on abnormal blood vessel formation. Instead, the researchers say that in addition to investigating resveratrol as a potential therapy, they also want to look more closely at the eEF2 pathway to determine whether it might provide a new set of targets for therapies, both for eye disease and other problems related to abnormal angiogenesis.

Apte, an assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences and of developmental biology, says because resveratrol is given orally, patients may prefer it to many current treatments for retinal disease, which involve eye injections. The compound also is easily absorbed in the body.

In mice, resveratrol was effective both at preventing new blood vessels and at eliminating abnormal blood vessels that already had begun to develop.

“This could potentially be a preventive therapy in high risk patients,” he says. “And because it worked on existing, abnormal blood vessels in the animals, it may be a therapy that can be started after angiogenesis already is causing damage.”

Apte stresses that the mouse model of macular degeneration they used is not identical to the disease in human eyes. In addition, the mice received large resveratrol doses, much more than would be found in several bottles of red wine. If resveratrol therapy is tried in people with eye disease, it would need to be given in pill form because of the high doses required, Apte says.

There are three major eye diseases that resveratrol treatment may help: age related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity. Age related macular degeneration involves the development of abnormal blood vessels beneath the center of the retina. It accounts for more than 40 percent of blindness among the elderly in nursing homes, and as baby boomers get older, the problem is expected to grow, with at least 8 million cases predicted by the year 2020.

In diabetic retinopathy, those blood vessels don’t develop beneath the retina. They grow into the retina itself. Diabetic retinopathy causes vision loss in about 20 percent of patients with diabetes. Almost 24 million people have diabetes in the United States alone.

Retinopathy of prematurity occurs when premature babies with immature retinas experience an obstruction in blood flow into the retina. In response, those children often develop abnormal blood vessels that can cause retinal detachment and interfere with vision. Worldwide, that condition blinds 50,000 newborn babies each year.

Apte says the pathway his laboratory has identified may be active not only in those blinding eye diseases, but in cancers and atherosclerosis as well. If so, then one day it might be possible to use resveratrol to improve eyesight and to prevent cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer, too.

>>>>>Read all the latest in our HeartVigor.com News Page.

MAPLE SYRUP, ANTI-OXIDANT AND MORE

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

KINGSTON, R.I.

URI pharmacy researcher finds beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup
Most are disease fighting anti-oxidants

Before you dig in to your next stack of French toast or waffles, you might want to pour on pure maple syrup.

That’s because University of Rhode Island researcher Navindra Seeram, who specializes in medicinal plant research, has found more than 20 compounds in maple syrup from Canada that have been linked to human health, 13 of which are newly discovered in maple syrup. In addition, eight of the compounds have been found in the Acer (maple) family for the first time.

The URI assistant professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences in URI’s College of Pharmacy presented his findings Sunday, March 21 at the American Chemical Society’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The project was made possible by Conseil pour le dĂ©veloppement de l’agriculture du QuĂ©bec (CDAQ), with funding provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program.

Several of these anti-oxidant compounds newly identified in maple syrup are also reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties.

Prior to the study, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers already knew that its product was full of naturally occurring minerals such as zinc, thiamine and calcium. But it enlisted Seeram to research the presence of plant anti-oxidants. The Federation awarded Seeram a two-year, $115,000 grant with the help of the CDAQ and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. His research continues to determine if the compounds exist in beneficial quantities.

Serge Beaulieu, president of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, said Seeram’s lab is but one in an expanding multi-national network of research facilities dedicated to the study of maple products from Canada.

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VITAMIN C BOOSTS THE REPROGRAMMING OF ADULT CELLS INTO STEM CELLS

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Famous for its antioxidant properties and role in tissue repair, vitamin C is touted as beneficial for illnesses ranging from the common cold to cancer and perhaps even for slowing the aging process. Now, a study published online on December 24th by Cell Press in the journal Cell Stem Cell uncovers an unexpected new role for this natural compound: facilitating the generation of embryonic like stem cells from adult cells. Over the past few years, we have learned that adult cells can be reprogrammed into cells with characteristics similar to embryonic stem cells by turning on a select set of genes. Although the reprogrammed cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), have tremendous potential for regenerative medicine, the conversion is extremely inefficient.

“The low efficiency of the reprogramming process has hampered progress with this technology and is indicative of how little we understand it. Further, this process is most challenging in human cells, raising a significant barrier for producing iPSCs and serious concerns about the quality of the cells that are generated,” explains senior study author Dr. Duanqing Pei from the South China Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

>>>>>Read the full Press Release in our HeartVigor.com News Page.

HEART DRUGS SHOW PROMISE FOR FIGHTING COLON CANCER

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Scientists in Sweden are reporting for the first time that a group of drugs used to treat heart failure shows promise for fighting colon cancer. The study is in ACS’ Journal of Natural Products, a monthly publication. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, with more than 150,000 cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

Oriental Foxglove Plant
The leaves of the oriental
foxglove plant contain digitoxin,
a drug used to treat heart disease.
It is in a family of medications
that now show promise for fighting
colon cancer
photo: Wikimedia Commons

Jenny Felth, Joachim Gullbo, and colleagues note that cardiac glycosides are a family of naturally derived drugs used to treat congestive heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms. Scientists have suspected for some time, based on previous research, that these heart drugs may have promise for fighting many different types of cancer. Despite this, knowledge on effects in colon cancer or combination effects with other anti cancer drugs is lacking. But scientists know little about their potential anticancer effects and have not tested these substances against colon cancer.

As part of a larger study to screen and identify natural substances with activity against colon cancer, the scientists picked several cardiac glycosides for further study. They tested five of these heart drugs against laboratory cultures of human colon cancer cells and found that they were all effective, to varying degrees, at killing the cancer cells. The sensitivity, however, was rather low when compared to that of other cancer cell types reported previously. Several of the drugs also showed increased anticancer activity when combined with certain drugs used for standard chemotherapy. The findings suggest that these heart drugs may affect colon cancer outcome when used alone or in combination with conventional chemotherapy drugs, they say.

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GREEN TEA SHOWS PROMISE AS CHEMOPREVENTION AGENT FOR ORAL CANCER

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

HOUSTON - Green tea extract has shown promise as cancer prevention agent for oral cancer in patients with a premalignant condition known as oral leukoplakia, according to researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The study, published online in Cancer Prevention Research, is the first to examine green tea as a chemopreventative agent in this high risk patient population. The researchers found that more than half of the oral leukoplakia patients who took the extract had a clinical response.

Long investigated in laboratory, epidemiological and clinical settings for several cancer types, green tea is rich in polyphenols, which have been known to inhibit carcinogenesis in preclinical models. Still, clinical results have been mixed.

“While still very early, and not definitive proof that green tea is an effective preventive agent, these results certainly encourage more study for patients at highest risk for oral cancer,” said Vassiliki Papadimitrakopoulou, M.D., professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology, and the study’s senior author. “The extract’s lack of toxicity is attractive - in prevention trials, it’s very important to remember that these are otherwise healthy individuals and we need to ensure that agents studied produce no harm.”

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