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Past News Items - Feb 2016


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In the News

Impact of fluoridation cessation seen in Calgary children: Study

Vitamin D Deficiency in Pregnant Women and Newborn Infants

New Insights in Chronic Disease Management with Clinical Nutrition

New Research Hold Promise for Diabetics with Vitamin D Deficiency

BIOCEUTICALS NOW AVAILABLE IN THE U.S. EXCLUSIVELY THROUGH NATURAL PARTNERS

New Clinical Study for Ulcerative Colitis

Study Strengthens Evidence Linking Autism to Maternal Obesity-Diabetes

First Accredited Ayurvedic Doctor Program In the United States

Identifying Another Piece in the Parkinson's Puzzle

New Research Demonstrates the Benefits of Hospice Care

Omega-3 Consumption Reduces Likelihood of Early Preterm Delivery




Released: 02/17/16


Impact of fluoridation cessation seen in Calgary children: Study

CALGARY, AB --(Marketwired - February 17, 2016) - A newly published study compared Grade 2 students in both Edmonton and Calgary, and found that fluoride cessation in Calgary has had a negative impact on children's health.

In primary teeth, known more commonly as baby teeth, there was a worsening in tooth decay in Calgary since the discontinuation of fluoridation in 2011, as compared to Edmonton, where water is still fluoridated. In fact, the number of tooth surfaces with decay per child increased by 3.8 surfaces in Calgary during the time frame of the study, as compared to only 2.1 in Edmonton. This is a statistically significant difference. The average child has about 20 teeth with four or five surfaces per tooth.

"This study points to the conclusion that tooth decay has worsened following removal of fluoride from drinking water, especially in primary teeth, and it will be important to continue monitoring these trends," says Lindsay McLaren, PhD, from the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine and O'Brien Institute for Public Health, the study's lead author. 

Tooth decay is the most common infectious disease in children. The consequences of tooth decay include pain for the child, expense of dental treatments such as extractions and fillings, and the soreness can also influence the performance of a child at school. Dental concerns are also the leading cause of day surgery for young children in Canada, including in Alberta.

"The early effects of fluoridation cessation found in this study support the role of water fluoridation in contributing to improved oral health of children and that it is a public health measure worth maintaining," says Steven Patterson, dentist, Professor at School of Dentistry, University of Alberta.

McLaren carried out the study with a number of colleagues from the University of Alberta and Alberta Health Services. 

"I was not at all sure that we would see these effects. It had only been about three years since fluoride was removed, which is on the short side; plus, there are potentially several sources of fluoride in both environments, which would tend to reduce the observed effect of removing fluoride from the drinking water," says McLaren who is an associate professor in the department of Community Health Sciences.

Researchers used surveillance data from students that was collected in 2004/05 and compared it to data they collected from students in the 2013-2014 school years in both cities. Grade 2 students were picked because they are at an age where researchers could examine both baby teeth and adult teeth in one group. Data was collected from more than 5,000 children in the two cities -- the schools were randomly selected from both the public and Catholic school systems. The two cities were compared because Edmonton has had fluoride since 1967 and still does, while Calgary stopped the practice of community water fluoridation in 2011 (which had been in place only since 1991).

Removing fluoride from drinking water is a debate facing many communities in North America and around the world. Fluoride is a tooth-enamel-strengthening mineral that was first introduced into public drinking water in 1945.

There are currently few published studies that look at the effects of fluoridation cessation. Researchers from the paper hope their study can be explored by decision makers who are involved in these discussions. 

The results of the study were published in the February issue of Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.

The study was funded by Alberta Health, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and Alberta Health Services. 

Lindsay McLaren is supported by CIHR (Institute of Population & Public Health and Institute of Musculoskeletal Health & Arthritis), the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Alberta Innovates -- Health Solutions.

About the University of Calgary
The University of Calgary is making tremendous progress on its journey to become one of Canada's top five research universities, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.'

For more information, visit ucalgary.ca. Stay up to date with University of Calgary news headlines on Twitter @UCalgary. For details on faculties and how to reach experts go to our media centre at ucalgary.ca/news/media.

About the Cumming School of Medicine
The University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine is a leader in health research, with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research and education. We train the next generation of health practitioners, and take new treatments and diagnostic techniques from the laboratory to the patient, always keeping in mind our goal: Creating the Future of Health.

The medical school was created in 1967 and on June 17, 2014, was formally named the Cumming School of Medicine in recognition of Geoffrey Cumming's generous gift to the university.

For more information, visit cumming.ucalgary.ca/, or follow us on Twitter@UCalgaryMed.

 

About the O'Brien Institute for Public Health
With more than 400 members, the University of Calgary's O'Brien Institute for Public Health is a virtual, interdisciplinary network integrating research groups, academics, health professionals, community leaders, and policy makers across the health continuum to catalyze excellence in population health and health services research. Together, O'Brien Institute members strive to produce new knowledge and evidence to inform, and help shape, public health agencies and health systems for the benefit of local, national and global communities - achieving the institute's vision of Better Health and Health Care. www.obrieniph.ucalgary.ca.

Released: 02/17/16


Vitamin D Deficiency in Pregnant Women and Newborn Infants

We all know about the struggle to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D in the winter, but for those who are pregnant, the struggle may last long past the final snowfall.

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that pregnant women in Germany are not sufficiently supplied with vitamin D—regardless of the time of year. The research, carried out on 261 pregnant women and 328 newborns, showed that during the winter months 98 percent of the pregnant women had a Vitamin D status lower than that recommended by the German Nutrition Society (DGE). However, in the summer months when Vitamin D can be formed by sunlight on the skin, the levels were often still too low.

The DGE and other professional societies, such as The German Society of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine recommend 15 to 30 minutes of outdoor exposure in order to stimulate Vitamin D production in the skin. Due to the generally poor Vitamin D status of the population in Germany the DGE has recently increased the Vitamin D intake recommendations for pregnant women from 5 micrograms (200 International Units, IU) to 20 micrograms (800 IU) per day but only if no endogenous Vitamin D synthesis occurs in the skin.

An adequate supply of vitamin D is important for both mother and child as many studies suggest a link between poor vitamin D status in pregnancy and the occurrence of complications during pregnancy, which can include diabetes mellitus, hypertension, infection, and preterm births. The risks for newborns include insufficient bone structure, lung disease, and diabetes mellitus.

Due to the alarming data the study revealed, lead author Professor Clemens Kunz argues for a routine examination of the vitamin D status in pregnant women, done by measuring 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood. Kunz states that pregnant women should begin taking vitamin D supplements once insufficiency is diagnosed, and that all pregnant women should supplement during the winter months.

The most important factor influencing the vitamin D status of women was thought to be the time of year, as the dietary supply of vitamin D is very low and most vitamin D is produced by UVB rays of the sun in the skin. However, the intensity of sunlight in Germany is too weak to provide enough vitamin D for the body. Thus, Kunz suggests increasing the intake of vitamin D via supplements, which is not easy as many vitamin D supplements have warnings against an excessive intake while pregnant. “Without changing the rules, a better vitamin D status and thus a lower risk for pregnant women and their children is hard to achieve. An overdose is not likely as the vitamin D supplied, either as a tablet or produced in the skin, is not effective as such. The active form is produced by the body in the kidney—but only if there is a need and if it is not needed then vitamin D remains inactive and is broken down and excreted,” says Professor Kunz.

Future research will be done in the form of an observational study in pregnant women that have been medically diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency. It will focus on whether the daily intake of 1,000 IU of vitamin D during pregnancy is sufficient to ensure the required supply. 

Released: 02/17/16


New Insights in Chronic Disease Management with Clinical Nutrition

A session on inflammation will be taking place in New York City next week.

Metagenics Healthcare Institute for Clinical Nutrition announced a special clinically focused preconference session, “The Clinical Nutrition Management of Chronic Diseases,” during the 2016 Annual Integrative Healthcare Symposium in New York City. This session will present data and insights on the clinical resolution of chronic inflammation and return to homeostasis. This novel, evidence-based approach differs from previous clinical methods that merely blocked or suppressed inflammation. Current research shows blocking the immune response actually hinders the body's innate ability for resolution through specific metabolic influences, and allows inflammation to become chronic, and in some cases, systemic.  

Innovative clinical insights on resolving inflammation vs simply blocking it will be discussed during this event addressing a number of different chronic health issues. Of particular interest will be the emphasis on 'inflammaging', and the unique inflammatory complications that accompany the aging process.  Dr. John Troup, CSO, Metagenics states, "an individual's vulnerability or resilience to inflammaging is influenced by many factors including nutrition, adiposity, genetic status, and environmental insults and can result in poor health outcomes over time including frailty." 

This special MHICN preconference at the 2016 Integrative Healthcare Symposium will address how healthcare providers can integrate targeted interventions to personalize management strategies and optimize patient health outcomes in chronic disease states. Presentations from leading authorities will include topics on novel medical nutrition approaches on cognitive health, probiotics and the gut-brain axis, the microbiome's influence on the brain and behavior, as well as describing the critical role nutrition plays in genetic expression and specific health conditions. Faculty for this event include: John Troup, PhD, Dale Bredesen, MD, PhD, Joan Claria, PhD,
Mark Lyte, PhD, Nikky Contractor, PhD, Tasneem Bhatia, MD, and Jennifer Stagg, ND.

This preconference event is being held on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 from 8am5pm at the New York Hilton, Midtown, NewYork City, NY. Online registration for preconference only: http://www.ihsymposium.com/annual-conference/preconference/

 

MHICN is a leader in clinical research in functional and integrative medicine with research collaborations at numerous, globally recognized academic centers of excellence.  MHICN.com is an educational website offering evidence based information on clinical nutrition and lifestyle medicine to registered users.

Released: 02/11/16


New Research Hold Promise for Diabetics with Vitamin D Deficiency

A simple change in diet could boost vitamin D levels for millions of Americans suffering from Type 2 diabetes, according to new research from Iowa State University published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Vitamin D is important for bone health and protecting against cancer and other diseases, but diabetics have trouble retaining it and other nutrients because of poor kidney function. A team of Iowa State researchers found diabetic rats fed an egg-based diet had higher concentrations of vitamin D, improved blood glucose levels and gained less weight.   

Iowa State researchers are most interested in 25-hydroxyvitamin D-3 (25D) – the form of vitamin D in the blood that reflects vitamin D status.

“Eggs are the richest source of 25-hydroxyvitamin D-3 in the diet, and there isn’t any conversion required to make it into the blood. If you take it in a supplement or food fortified with vitamin D, it has to be converted to that form,” said Matthew Rowling, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition. For that reason, it made sense to test eggs in the diet rather than other foods containing vitamin D or a supplement.  

The variation in results was significant. Blood glucose levels dropped nearly 50 percent for diabetic rats on an egg-based diet compared to diabetic rats fed a standard diet. Concentrations of 25D were 148 percent higher for the egg-fed group and plasma triglyceride concentrations—a risk factor for cardiovascular disease—dropped 52 percent.

Rowling and colleagues Kevin Schalinske, professor of food science and human nutrition, and Samantha Jones, a graduate research assistant, are still working to understand why more vitamin D is retained from eggs than supplements. They say it may be related to other components found in eggs. 

Don’t Skip the Yolk

Eggs are not only a good source of vitamin D and other nutrients; they are also inexpensive and readily available. However, researchers say you need to eat the whole egg. 

“If you just ate egg whites you wouldn’t get any of the vitamin D, because the 25D is only in the yolk. The whites are fine if you’re focused just on protein, but the nutrients are all in the yolk. From a vitamin D standpoint, you want to consume the whole thing,” said Jones, lead author of the paper. 

The next step is to determine the minimal amount of eggs needed in the diet to yield a benefit. The study was designed to replace protein in the diet, so the rats were fed the equivalent of 17 to 18 eggs daily. However, based on the results and the severity of the rats’ diabetes, researchers expect a much lower dosage will be effective in humans. They also want to know if health benefits are enhanced when additional dietary constituents that promote the maintenance of vitamin D status and reduction of diabetic symptoms, such as fiber, are added to the diet.

“You may need even less egg if you combine it with something else that does not provide vitamin D per se, but rather protects the kidney and prevents loss of vitamin D,” Schalinske said. “We want to make sure we understand what’s going on with egg consumption and promoting vitamin D balance and make sure there’s a linkage to outcomes whether it’s bone health or kidney health.”

Gar Yee Koh, a postdoctoral research associate at Tufts University, also contributed to this paper. The research was funded by the Egg Nutrition Center.

 

 

Released: 02/10/16


BIOCEUTICALS NOW AVAILABLE IN THE U.S. EXCLUSIVELY THROUGH NATURAL PARTNERS

Natural Partners, Inc., a trusted resource for integrative healthcare practitioners for more than 20 years, announced today it is the exclusive U.S. distributor of BioCeuticals®, Australia’s leading provider of practitioner–only nutritional supplements. For over two decades, BioCeuticals has been at the forefront of the highly regulated Australian nutritional supplements industry, and has received the prestigious Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) accreditation.  

 

Created by integrative health practitioners for integrative health practitioners, BioCeuticals offers the U.S. market a comprehensive range of over 50 nutritional supplements that supports digestive health, immunity, cardiovascular health, weight management, energy, detoxification and more.  These products are available for the first time in the U.S., joining a portfolio of more than 14,000 integrative healthcare products available at naturalpartners.com.

 

Managing Director of BioCeuticals, Nathan Cheong, N.D., said the company’s vision has always been to promote integrative medicines as a key element to improved health and wellbeing. “We know that when you choose BioCeuticals, you expect the purest and most effective products on the market.” Mr. Cheong elaborated about the new alliance, “We carefully selected Natural Partners to facilitate our entrance into the U.S. market based on the company’s philosophies and values, which are aligned with those of BioCeuticals, as well as their sophisticated channel strategy, advanced ordering system, focus on education and dedicated marketing support for BioCeuticals.”

 

“We are thrilled to be the exclusive distribution partner for BioCeuticals in the U.S.,” said Fran Towey, President of Natural Partners. “BioCeuticals is widely regarded for their truly unique formulations, clinically-tested products and exceedingly high-quality standards, as exemplified by their TGA accreditation. Their focus on innovation, quality and education, including their world-renowned Scientific Advisory Board, are aligned with our key strategic initiatives, and we welcome the opportunity to better serve healthcare practitioners and their patients by making the BioCeuticals product line available to them.”

 

“We know with Natural Partners we have a true partnership,” said Mr. Cheong. “They are highly innovative and ahead of the curve in their approach to the marketing and selling of practitioner-only supplements. We have a high degree of trust in their processes and admire the strong relationships they maintain with their valued practitioner clients.”

 

Some of the top-rated BioCeuticals products available through Natural Partners include:

 

·         BioFloractiv 500, a combination of 14 probiotic strains totaling 500 billion CFU per 5g sachet

·         Echinamide ImmunoBurst, chewable liquid capsules using a proprietary blend of Echinacea

·         Theracurmin Triple, highly bioavailable curcumin, concentrated to three times the strength of the standard Theracurmin

·         Liposomal range of supplements with an advanced delivery system for higher bioavailability

 

 

ABOUT NATURAL PARTNERS

Natural Partners, Inc. is a resource for practitioners who strive to improve patient wellness by providing education and professional-grade products to healthcare practitioners and their patients. Since 1995, Natural Partners has researched trusted brands and welcomed them into their portfolio, currently offering over 14,000 premium products from hundreds of high-quality manufacturers. Natural Partners works with thousands of healthcare practitioners every week to help them maintain an efficient, seamless ordering system that ensures their patients get the supplements they need, when they need them. For more information, visit naturalpartners.com.

 

ABOUT BIOCEUTICALS

 

BioCeuticals is at the forefront of evidence-based Integrative Medicine, being a proud sponsor of seven key clinical trials in primary healthcare facilities. As a specialist leader in integrative health education, BioCeuticals is committed to helping educate healthcare professionals on research and its practical application for better patient outcomes. Some of the company’s initiatives include the launching of the BioCeuticals Internship Program and the Annual BioCeuticals Research Symposium, the event calendar highlight in Australian integrative health which features renowned international speakers in nutritional and integrative medicine. For more information, visit bioceuticals.com.au/usa.

Released: 02/04/16


New Clinical Study for Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is a chronic disease of the colon that causes the colon to become inflamed and forms ulcers. UC is a type of irritable bowel disease (IBD), which is a term that describes conditions with chronic or recurring inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The number of patients diagnosed with IBD has increased significantly across the past 50 years, with 1.6 million people in the United States alone affected by IBD. The incidence of IBDs, including UC, is highest among people between the ages of 20 and 40, often affecting individuals during their healthiest and most productive years of life.

Managing the symptoms of UC is a constant challenge for patients with frequent bathroom trips, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea significantly affecting the day-to-day routines of people with the disease. The availability of an oral medication such as the one being studied in the OASIS clinical study could offer patients an additional, more convenient treatment for UC.

The OASIS clinical study is evaluating an investigational medication to learn if it may safely and effectively reduce the inflammation of the gut in patients with moderately to severely active UC. The medication is considered investigational because it is not approved by health authorities, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for the treatment of UC.

Clinical studies are done to help determine if investigational medications are safe and are effective in treating diseases and conditions. People volunteer to participate in clinical studies and these studies play an important role in the development of medications. Many drugs, therapies, and devices that are used today are the result of past clinical studies.

The study is being conducted at more than 100 clinical centers worldwide, and about 240 adults aged 18 to 80 will participate in the OASIS clinical study. The study will last about 16 to 18 weeks and include 7 to 10 visits to the study clinic.

To learn more about the OASIS study, visit www.TheOasisTrial.com.

Released: 02/04/16


Study Strengthens Evidence Linking Autism to Maternal Obesity-Diabetes

Scientists show they can use electronic medical records and birth information to verify and strengthen an already suspected link between autistic children and pregnant mothers with obesity and diabetes.

The findings from researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center are reported in a study posted online ahead of publication by the journal Autism Research. An estimated one out of 45 children is affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Both genetics and environment, and the interaction of both, are suspected. The increasing prevalence of ASD also happens to mirror increases in obesity and diabetes, the authors note.    

"Although previous studies report a link between maternal obesity and diabetes during pregnancy to autism, we demonstrate that electronic medical data can verify and establish the extent of this link across large populations," said Katherine Bowers, PhD, MPH, study senior author and a member of the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Cincinnati Children's.  

"Without placing any burden on study participants or the costs of developing an epidemiologic study from scratch, we can use the vast amounts of data already collected for clinical purposes to conduct broad population-based studies on this link to autism. We are very excited about the future studies we can do with this ability," she added.

According to study data, pregnant mothers with obesity or gestational diabetes were 1.5 times more likely to have a child with ASD compared to mothers of children without developmental disorders. The increased risk of ASD for pregnant mothers with both obesity and gestational diabetes was two-fold. The findings fit well into an increasing body of evidence that obesity and gestational diabetes may be associated with the development of autism.

Including collaborators in the Division of Biomedical Informatics at Cincinnati Children's, Bowers and her colleagues analyzed a variety medical record and birth data from patients and mothers to help identify risk factors. Using birth records from Southwest Ohio (part of the Cincinnati Children's primary service area) the researchers compared mothers who had a child diagnosed with ASD to mothers of children with a non-autism developmental disorder. They also included in their comparison mothers with children having no developmental disorders.

The authors said they were fortunate to have access to a large number of electronic medical records from the Cincinnati Children's Kelly O'Leary Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, a leading autism diagnosis and treatment center with a rigorous, uniform, and multidisciplinary autism assessment process. Unlike prior studies, the researchers were able to use novel language processing techniques to analyze free text medical notes and confirm autism diagnoses expressed as a numerical code.

Among study participants, 487 mothers had a child with ASD, 1,495 had a child with another type of developmental disorder, and 35,734 mothers of children without ASD or a developmental disorder were included for control. The average age of mothers having children with ASD was 28.6 years, and 27.4 years for both mothers of children with a developmental disorder and for controls.  

Given the increased prevalence of children with autism spectrum disorders, they stress the importance of using their findings collaboratively to conduct much larger multi-institutional studies.

Funding support for the study came in part from an Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Award and the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (8UL1TR000077-04).

 

About Cincinnati Children's
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at www.cincinnatichildrens.org. Connect on the Cincinnati Children's blog, via Facebook and on Twitter.

Released: 02/02/16


First Accredited Ayurvedic Doctor Program In the United States

The California College of Ayurveda is proud to announce a newly developed, state-approved Ayurvedic Doctor Program, accredited by the National Council on Ayurvedic Education. This is the first time such a program has been offered in the United States.

The Ayurvedic Doctor curriculum provides students with highly advanced course work and hands-on training, integrating classical Ayurvedic medicine as it has been taught and practiced in India for thousands of years combined with a basic knowledge of Western medicine.

“California College of Ayurveda spearheaded Ayurvedic practitioner training in this country 21 years ago, and now we are at the forefront of bringing Ayurvedic Doctors to America through our new Ayurvedic Doctor program,” said Dr. Marc Halpern, founder of the college. “This, along with our other programs, helps Ayurveda build the necessary infrastructure in the United States for universal recognition. We are honored to help promote the advancement of this profession, increasing the availability and benefits of Ayurveda in this country, and to be of service to humanity in this way.”

Established in 1995, the California College of Ayurveda is the oldest state-approved college offering Ayurvedic medicine training. Ayurvedic medicine is both preventative and curative. As a preventative form of medicine, Ayurveda focuses on creating a state of balance and harmony in the body and mind that enhances the immune system and supports the body to heal itself. As a curative form of medicine, Ayurvedic herbal medicines have been used for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of diseases.  

Ayurveda’s appeal is closely connected with yoga; in fact, they are considered sister sciences. Ayurvedic medicine is known as the healing side of yoga. Ayurveda incorporates the same philosophy and principles as yoga with a full system of preventive and curative medicinal principles.

 “The fact that Dr. Halpern has created this program to further the field of Ayurvedic education and healthcare in the United States is right in line with his internationally recognized stature in the field—he’s been instrumental in advancing the science in the U.S. for over 20 years,” said Heidi Wingo, school director.

The Ayurvedic Doctor program entails 3,100 hours of training. These hours include training in classical Ayurvedic principles, clinical Ayurvedic principles and an overview of Western medicine. Students also complete an 18-month-long internship. The total course work takes three years of full time study to complete, although the college also offers distance learning and weekend classes.

Ayurvedic Doctors combine the interpretation of traditional diagnostic techniques such as pulse, tongue and voice diagnosis with modern diagnostic techniques such as laboratory studies. Taking a unique view of the results of modern tests, Ayurvedic Doctors seek to understand the patient on a physical and emotional level. Ayurvedic Doctors are specialists in mind-body medicine, taking this concept one step further by integrating the understanding of consciousness itself. With this complete understanding of the patient, the Ayurvedic doctor is able to put together a complete treatment plan for most conditions.

The college is now accepting applications for new students. Students begin in the Ayurvedic Health Counselor program and can continue on into the Ayurvedic Practitioner program leading up to the Ayurvedic Doctor Program.

To find out more or to request information about the new Ayurvedic Doctor program, go to AyurvedaCollege.com.

Released: 02/01/16


Identifying Another Piece in the Parkinson's Puzzle

An international public-private research consortium has identified and validated a cellular role of a primary Parkinson's disease drug target, the LRRK2 kinase. This important finding, published in the online, open-access eLife journal, illuminates a novel route for therapeutic development and intervention testing for Parkinson's, the second most common neurodegenerative disease (after Alzheimer's).

A team of investigators from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, the University of Dundee, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and MSD contributed unique tools and expertise toward rigorous systematic testing that determined the LRRK2 kinase regulates cellular trafficking by deactivating certain Rab proteins (3, 8, 10, and 12).

Mutations in the LRRK2 gene are the greatest known genetic contributor to Parkinson's disease. Pharmaceutical companies are developing LRRK2 kinase inhibitors to correct the effects of those mutations and treat Parkinson's disease. This new breakthrough finding that links mutant LRRK2 to inappropriate deactivation of Rab function unlocks more than 20 years of accumulated knowledge of the roles of Rab proteins. This knowledge can now be integrated to significantly improve our understanding of LRRK2 dysfunction in the Parkinson's disease process.  

"The pathological cascade leading to brain diseases such as Parkinson's likely includes many cellular players," said Matthias Mann, PhD, Director of the Department of Proteomics and Signal Transduction at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry. "The identification of this LRRK2 substrate gives us a central piece in this puzzle and another potential place to intervene in the disease process."

Marco Baptista, PhD, MJFF, Senior Associate Director of Research Programs, said, "Identification of Rab proteins as a LRRK2 substrate presents a tool to measure the impact of these inhibitors not only on LRRK2 levels but also on LRRK2 function. This critical component will advance development of these therapies to slow or stop Parkinson's disease, patients' greatest unmet need."

This MJFF-led consortium used a combination of tools in the discovery, including a knock-in mouse model of the most common LRRK2 mutation strongly associated with Parkinson's (created by GSK), a second knock-in LRRK2 mouse model generated by MJFF, LRRK2 kinase inhibitors from GSK and Merck, and state-of-the-art mass spectrometry.  These tools—and the collaborative spirit that united the partners—were necessary to make this finding.

"This unique model of collaboration and our systematic approach across laboratories using advanced technologies and layers of confirmation provide a firm foundation from which to continue this line of investigation and further refine our understanding of the LRRK2 Rab relationship," said Dario Alessi, PhD, Director of the Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit at the University of Dundee.

With additional MJFF funding, this research group now is working to further characterize the Rab proteins modified by LRRK2 and to understand how an imbalance in cellular trafficking leads to the degeneration of neurons seen in Parkinson's disease. 

Released: 02/01/16


New Research Demonstrates the Benefits of Hospice Care

Findings in a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicate a better end of life experience for cancer patients who died with the support of hospice as opposed to a hospital's intensive care department.

The research article, "Family Perspectives on Aggressive Cancer Care Near the End of Life," reported benefits of timelier hospice access. When hospice care was provided for more than three days, families reported a better end-of-life experience than those patients who received hospice care for three or less days.

Additionally, family members of patients who did not receive hospice care, or received three days or less, indicated that their loved one was less likely to have died in the patient's preferred location (40% versus 73% for those who had more than three days of hospice care).

"In this study we found that patients' preferences influenced the care that they received. Now we need to ensure that patients and their family members have the information they need to make choices about their end-of-life experiences and plan for it," wrote Dr. Alexi Wright, the lead researcher with Harvard Medical School.

The issue of JAMA is a theme edition looking at end of life. The importance of quality palliative and hospice care in providing a "good death" was cited by a number of the authors featured in the publication. Additionally, researchers shared a common message about the importance of advance care planning for making care preferences known.

Many of the research findings shared by JAMA echo key messages that have been part of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization's award-winning national awareness campaign, Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice.

Moments of Life features videos, blog articles and photos showing real patients and families who, with the support of hospice and palliative care, have found meaningful moments despite their terminal illness.

The website also provides tools to help people find a local hospice, learn more about hospice or palliative care, learn about advance care planning, and more.

"Helping people understand that choosing hospice or palliative care earlier in the course of a serious, life-limiting illness is not 'giving up' but in most cases maximizes quality of life," said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. "NHPCO applauds the American Medical Association's focus on end of life issues in this edition of JAMA."

"Hospice and palliative care professionals have long advocated that patients and families talk about desired end-of-life wishes long before they find themselves in a medical crisis," Schumacher added.

 

Visit Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice to learn about the many ways hospice and palliative care might be right for you or a loved one.

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