HEALTH

New research finds link between antioxidants, increased diabetes risk

BY Michael Johnsen

ST. LOUIS A new report in the Oct. 7 issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, found that low levels of free radicals – which commonly are perceived as damaging to a body and the reason behind the consumption of antioxidant vitamins – might actually prevent diabetes by improving the ability to respond to insulin signals.

“Our studies indicate that ‘physiological’ low levels of [free radicals] may promote the insulin response and attenuate insulin resistance early in the progression of Type 2 diabetes, prior to overt obesity and hyperglycemia,” stated Tony Tiganis of Monash University in Australia.

Tiganis said whether antioxidants ultimately are good for people probably will depend on their state of health or disease. “In the case of early Type 2 diabetes and the development of insulin resistance, our studies suggest that antioxidants would be bad for you,” he said.

Under some conditions, treatments designed to selectively increase ROS in muscle – if they can be devised – might even help, he said.

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Ulcerative colitis treatment reduces need for surgery by almost half, study suggests

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK A new study led by Mayo Clinic researchers found that ulcerative colitis patients had a 41% reduction in colectomy when treated with infliximab for one year, according to a study published in the October 2009 issue of Gastroenterology.

Ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes chronic inflammation of the colon, is characterized by abdominal pain and diarrhea. Like Crohn’s disease, another common IBD, ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and often lead to colectomy, or surgical removal of the colon.

In the study, 728 patients received placebo or infliximab (5 or 10 mg/kg) for 46 weeks and were monitored for hospitalization or surgical outcomes. Eighty-seven percent had complete follow-up for the endpoint of whether or not they had colectomy, while the remaining 13% of patients had follow-up for less then a year, with a median follow-up of 6.2 months in these patients. The research showed that treatment with infliximab at zero, two, six and then every 8 weeks, reduced the incidence of colectomy through 54 weeks by 41% in outpatients with moderately-to-severe active ulcerative colitis.

Infliximab is an artificial antibody that works by blocking tumor necrosis factor alpha, a chemical messenger and a key part of the immune reaction. Infliximab blocks the action of TNF alpha by preventing it from binding to its receptor in the cell.

“Our purpose in this study was to see if the use of infliximab for ulcerative colitis would reduce the need for surgery,” said William Sandborn, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist and lead author of the study. “We found that treatment with infliximab reduced the need for colectomy by 41% compared to patients treated with placebo.”

Previous research has shown that infliximab therapy induced clinical remission and bowel healing for colitis patients. This new research provides more information and options for patients struggling with this difficult disease, explained Sandborn.

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FDA approves Perrigo’s laxative generic

BY Michael Johnsen

ALLEGAN, Mich. Perrigo on Tuesday announced that it has received final approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its abbreviated new drug application for over-the-counter polyethylene glycol 3350, powder for solution, a generic equivalent to Schering-Plough’s MiraLAX laxative.

Perrigo said it would begin shipping immediately.

Estimated brand sales MiraLAX for the 12 months ended Aug. 28 were $200 million, Perrigo stated.

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