HEALTH

Novel H1N1 virus linked to 1918 pandemic

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Several research groups funded by the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Institute of General Medical Sciences recently have put together a picture of where the novel H1N1 virus came from and how it evolved, the agency noted in a report published on its Web site Monday.

They discovered that the novel H1N1 virus is a descendent not only of swine viruses but also of the H1N1 virus that caused the 1918 pandemic, which killed more than 40 million people worldwide.

“The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic was a defining event in the history of public health,” stated NIAID director Anthony Fauci. “The legacy of that pandemic lives on in many ways, including the fact that the descendents of the 1918 virus have continued to circulate for 9 decades.”

In other work, 2 research groups — an NIGMS-funded team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — recently collaborated to test the ability of novel H1N1 to spread and cause disease. They isolated viruses from 3 patients and infected mice and ferrets. The results were published in the July 2 issue of Science.

The researchers found that compared with seasonal H1N1 flu viruses, the novel H1N1 viruses replicated to higher levels in lung tissue and were also more deadly. The scientists also found the viruses in the intestinal tracts of the ferrets, which might explain reports of gastro-intestinal problems in some infected people. However, the novel H1N1 viruses transmitted less efficiently between ferrets in respiratory droplets than seasonal H1N1.

The binding of influenza viruses to their target cells is mediated by hemagglutinin. The researchers found that the novel H1N1 hemagglutinin binds to receptors in the human respiratory tract much less effectively than other flu viruses that infect humans. However, flu viruses can mutate rapidly, so the virus could potentially improve its ability to bind, researchers cautioned.

The researchers also found that novel H1N1 doesn’t have a version of another gene called PB2 that has been associated with efficient virus transmission. However, they point out that the virus could acquire another version of the gene through mutation or by exchanging genes with other influenza viruses.

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Fairhaven Health partners with fertility expert for product line

BY Michael Johnsen

BELLINGHAM, Wash. Fairhaven Health on Friday partnered with fertility expert and OB-GYN Amos Grunebaum around a product line — FertilAid — that helps couples conceive naturally. And once pregnant, Fairhaven Health offers products that provide the nutritional support women need to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and beyond.

FertilAid for Women is a fertility-enhancing supplement designed for trying-to-conceive women. The formula combines vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with an herbal fertility enhancing blend designed to restore female hormone balance, promote regular ovulation and support overall reproductive wellness.

FertilAid for Men is a formula designed to improve male fertility. Clinically shown in a recent study to improve the total number of motile sperm, FertilAid for Men provides a comprehensive formula to improve sperm parameters such as count, motility and morphology, Fairhaven stated. Suggested retail price for both products is $28.95.

“Our FertilAid supplements are very popular with couples who are just beginning their conception efforts,” Grunebaum stated. “These couples are simply looking to accelerate the time in which they are able to achieve pregnancy, and to do so in as healthy a manner as possible.”

According to Fairhaven, there are a number of factors that contribute to a difficulty to conceive. For example, as women have entered the working world in increasing numbers, the average age at which they begin trying to conceive is older. According to the American Fertility Association, the probability of having a baby decreases between 3% and 5% per year after the age of 30.

There’s also nutrition and lifestyle, Fairhaven noted, such as being overweight or obese. In addition, drinking alcohol, caffeine intake and smoking can negatively impact conception odds.

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NAD recommends PatentHealth modify, discontinue advertising claims for dietary supplement

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus on Thursday recommended that PatentHealth modify or discontinue certain claims for its Trigosamine Fast Acting dietary supplement, including speed of relief claims.

PatentHealth responded that it will appeal certain NAD findings to the National Advertising Review Board.NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory body, examined advertising for Trigo FA following a challenge by Nutramax Laboratories. Claims at issue included: 

  • “Mom gets rapid relief from the new joint pill that works in just 3 days.”;
  • “Trigosamine Fast-Acting has been clinically shown to get results in as little as 3 days. Participants continued to feel improvement throughout the 8 week trial”;
  • “Just released clinical study says new pill works 600% faster than Glucosamine alone.”; and
  • “2 caplet dose for fast, all day joint relief,” among others.

The advertised product is an addition to the advertiser’s line of joint-health products, and was introduced into the marketplace in 2008, NAD noted. In contrast to the original formula of Trigosamine, which contains glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid, Trigo FA contains a formula of glucosamine sulfate, hyaluronic acid and a “RapidFlex” proprietary blend, which includes trademarked Boswellin, patented Curcumin C3 Complex and patented Bioperine (a standardized extract of black pepper).As support for its performance claims, PatentHealth relied on a clinical study on Trigo FA that it commissioned to test the supplement’s efficacy in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee in comparison to placebo. The advertiser maintained that in the fall of 2008, its proprietary Trigo FA study was completed, and based upon the results, as well as the substantial body of scientific evidence for each of the individual ingredients in Trigo FA, PatentHealth developed its advertising claims for new Trigo FA.

Based on all of this evidence, NAD noted in its decision that it recognizes that glucosamine supplementation provides a benefit for sufferers of osteoarthritis, but not within the short time periods advertised for this product.

The claims of “rapid relief” and “fast acting” are based on the advertiser’s Trigo FA study which found that the subjects taking Trigo FA experienced a statistically significant (albeit small) increase in the distance walked from baseline as measured by a six-minute walk test, after three days of supplementation. In contrast, the placebo group in the study experienced a decrease in distance walked in the six-minute walk test at every measured interval. The advertiser maintained that this positive and statistically significant result evidences that the product can “work” for most in only three days, which is a quick result that can be referred to as a “rapid relief” and, therefore, this claim is properly substantiated.

NAD determined however, found that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the demonstrated improvement in the walk test is what consumers taking Trigo FA would expect or consider as the claimed “relief” promised in three days. NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue using the term “rapid relief,” since there was insufficient evidence that the results achieved in the Trigo FA study would be considered by consumers to be “rapid relief.”

Further, citing concerns about the parameters of the walk test, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue claims based on the results of the test as measured after three days.

NAD also recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim “2 caplet dose for fast, all day joint relief.”

NAD also fielded two primary concerns about the truthfulness and accuracy of the comparative superiority claim that Trigosamine works 600% faster than glucosamine alone. First, the Trigo FA study relied upon by the advertiser did not compare Trigosamine FA with glucosamine. Rather, the advertising relied on the results of results of its Trigosamine FA testing against a placebo, compared to the results of other studies conducted on glucosamine alone. Making such a study-to-study comparison is not appropriate because of the different study populations, and other variables involved within each study. Given the uncontrolled variability within studies and between the studies, a claim based on such a comparison is inherently unreliable.

Further, NAD determined that the express language of the claim which reasonably implies that the “just released clinical study” specifically found that Trigo FA works 600% faster than glucosamine alone, a message which misstates the results of the study.

NAD recommended that because there is currently no testing comparing the efficacy of Trigo FA supplementation with that of glucosamine supplementation alone, any comparative efficacy and/or performance claims of Trigo FA versus glucosamine should be discontinued.

The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said it would appeal NAD’s decision related to claims based on the results of the Six Minute Walk Test, measured at the three day data point, as well as NAD’s findings related to appearance of advertising.

“PatentHealth believes that the NAD has misunderstood the meaning of its statistical analysis and the data underlying the three-day claim, which led the NAD to reject this claim,” the dietary supplement supplier stated. “This misunderstanding surrounding the meaning of baseline and raw data should not change the fact that credible statistical analysis proves there was a statistically significant improvement in mobility at the Day 3 data point. Therefore, PatentHealth will seek the NARB’s review of this claim.”

The company said, as well, that it will comply with NAD’s recommendation regarding claims of “fast” or “rapid relief;” ”600% faster than glucosamine” and any direct glucosamine comparison claims; and “…when combined with glucosamine, improves absorption of nutrients and works quickly to improve mobility and flexibility.”

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