Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rhubarb crumble - the new cancer-busting superfood?

The usual polyphenol nonsense. Speculation based on observations in laboratory glassware, apparently. No double blind trial in humans. Double blind trials can be SO disappointing to deductions based on observations of events in laboratory glassware

Rhubarb crumble can help fight cancer, claim scientists. Researchers have found that the traditional favourite, like many red vegetables, contains cancer killing chemicals. And baking the plant for 20 minutes - like in a crumble or pie - dramatically increases their concentration. Now it is hoped that extracting the substances from the plant could come up with new drug treatments for cancers such as leukaemia.

The findings showed the chemicals, called polyphenols, could kill or prevent the growth of cancer cells and could be used to develop new, less toxic, treatments for the disease. It could even be used in cases where cancers had proved resistant to other treatments.

The study, by Sheffield Hallam University, is the first time the benefits of British garden rhubarb, specifically a variety grown in south Yorkshire, have been studied. Previous research focused on Oriental medicinal rhubarb, which has been recognised for its health benefits and used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Academics now hope to discover the best combination of rhubarb's polyphenols and chemotherapy agents needed to kill leukaemia cells.

Dr Nikki Jordan-Mahy, of Sheffield Hallam University's biomedical research centre, said: "Our research has shown that British rhubarb is a potential source of chemicals that may be used to develop new anti-cancerous drugs. "Rhubarb has been shown to have some very interesting polyphenols that have anti-cancerous properties. Eating a nice crumble will be good for you.

"But if we can extract the polyphenols they may be useful in helping to fight cancer along with chemotherapy. "Current treatments are not effective in all cancers and resistance is a common problem as is toxicity. "Cancer affects one in three individuals in the UK so it's very important to discover novel, less toxic, treatments, which can overcome resistance."

The research, jointly carried out by the Scottish Crop Research Institute, is published in the journal Food Chemistry.


A Stimulus for Food Cops' Appetites

In case you missed it, we noted last week that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (an economic "stimulus" bill passed by Congress last year) includes hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to decrease the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. New York (home of the self-anointed Big Apple food police) will receive $259,931 to "reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages." And $1,198,785 is earmarked for Colorado to, among other things, reduce soft drink consumption. In other words, the federal government is using taxpayer dollars to tell taxpayers what not to buy. (Clearly, this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind.)

It's hard to see how this part of the "recovery" plan helps regular Americans get healthier. For one, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is not associated with youth weight gain, according to a growing body of academic research. There are also serious doubts about the reliability of contradictory research supposedly proving a "link" between soft drink consumption and obesity. So reducing consumption isn't likely to have positive health effects.

These "recovery" grants may simply be a new food-police approach to the familiar goals of unpopular soft drink taxes- the supposed "solution" to the soda "crisis." Both Colorado and New York are considering similar taxes. (One plan just squeaked through the Centennial State's legislature.) Both have drawn severe criticism-including a protest at an Empire State bottling plant-on the basis that the taxes will cost jobs by shrinking businesses. One estimate puts the job loss at up to 800 in Colorado alone.

Federal government grants could have the same effect on employment if they were to actually succeed in their goal to reduce soft drink consumption. It's hard to see how job loss fits into the feds' plan for economic "stimulus." Maybe the grants are just a way to help diet dictators "recover" from bingeing on heavy-handed naysaying-and stay gainfully employed.


New class of antibiotics could treat drug-resistant infections

The popular article below is rather strange. They tout the antibiotic as useful against a wide range of bacteria, whereas the abstract says the opposite

Scientists have developed a new class of antibiotics that could help to overcome the growing problem of drug-resistant infections in hospitals. The compound, POL7080, could enter clinical trials in the UK this year. A study published today in the journal Science says the new drugs could be effective against infections such as E. coli and helico bacteria. Widespread use of antibiotics has led many bacteria to evolve resistance to multiple versions of drugs.

If the new treatment provs to be effective in people, it will be a major medical advance. According to the scientists behind the study, the last time an entirely novel antibiotic was developed was in 1962. In principle, the antibiotics should be effective for all infections caused by the gram negative group of bacteria, which includes E. Coli, helico bacteria and a variety of urinary tract and digestive infections.

In the study, the drug was optimised to treat a dangerous bacteria, called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, that is one of the most common hospital infections and can be life-threatening for patients with pneumonia or cystic fibrosis. The treatment was effective in protecting mice against a lethal P. aeruginosa infection. "This is a very promising candidate for a life-threatening condition with serious drug-resistance problems," said Professor Jeff Errington, director of the Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Newcastle.

Conventional antibiotics target infections by entering the bacterial cell and attacking it from within. Penicillin, for instance, works by entering the cell and blocking the action of an enzyme required to strengthen its cell walls. However, widespread use of antibiotics has led many bacteria to evolve resistance to multiple versions of drugs, meaning that some infections are now virtually untreatable. Some bacteria have developed extra-thick membranes, preventing the drugs from penetrating the bacteria, while others have developed "pump" systems in their walls that flush any foreign bodies out of the cell's interior.

The POL7080 drug disables from the outside, a completely new approach that bacteria have had no chance to build up immunity against. It works by attaching itself to a site on the outer membrane of the bacteria that is involved in generating proteins needed to build the outer cell wall. "Our compound blocks the assembly of the outer layer, meaning that the cells can't divide and multiply," said Professor John Robinson, a biological chemist at the University of Zurich, who led the research.

All gram-negative bacteria feature a thick outer membrane of a similar structure meaning that while the drug was optimised for P. aeruginosa it is likely to be effective for other gram-negative infections. Gram-positive-type bacteria, including MRSA and C. Difficile, do not have an outer membrane, making them unlikely targets for the new drug.

P. aeruginosa is the most common cause of infections of burn injuries and is the most frequent coloniser of medical devices such as catheters. It is also the most common cause of death for cystic fibrosis patients and can cause pneumonias and blood infections in individuals with compromised immune systems.

Polyphor, a Swiss biotech company that was involved in the study, is now working to develop the compound into a dosage and form suitable for people. "You have to bear in mind that drug development is where a lot of things fall down. But this work is a very promising first step," said Professor Errington.

A spokeswoman for the Health Protection Agency said: "The HPA has been warning for some time of the risk from infections which are more difficult to treat due to antibiotic resistance, in particular about harder-to-treat infections caused by gram negative bacteria for which there are few antibiotics available."



Peptidomimetic Antibiotics Target Outer-Membrane Biogenesis in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

By Nityakalyani Srinivas et al.

Antibiotics with new mechanisms of action are urgently required to combat the growing health threat posed by resistant pathogenic microorganisms. We synthesized a family of peptidomimetic antibiotics based on the antimicrobial peptide protegrin I. Several rounds of optimization gave a lead compound that was active in the nanomolar range against Gram-negative Pseudomonas spp., but was largely inactive against other Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. Biochemical and genetic studies showed that the peptidomimetics had a non–membrane-lytic mechanism of action and identified a homolog of the β-barrel protein LptD (Imp/OstA), which functions in outer-membrane biogenesis, as a cellular target. The peptidomimetic showed potent antimicrobial activity in a mouse septicemia infection model. Drug-resistant strains of Pseudomonas are a serious health problem, so this family of antibiotics may have important therapeutic applications.

Science 19 February 2010: Vol. 327. no. 5968, pp. 1010 - 1013

1 comment:

Wireless.Phil said...

I think the last super food was Blue Berries, which now cost close to US$5.00 a 1/2-pint.

Whats next?

Its always something and most of it doesn't mean a damn.
I'll stick to my cigs and booze.