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Researchers find link between heart attacks, Alzheimer’s

BY Alaric DeArment

BOLOGNA, Italy — Data from a new study by scientists in Italy could help physicians calculate patients’ risks for Alzheimer’s disease and heart attacks. Researchers at the University of Bologna said they found a common genetic link between heart attacks and Alzheimer’s, according to results of a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.


The researchers examined the DNA of 1,800 people, including 280 who had experienced heart attacks, 257 with Alzheimer’s and a control group of 1,307 healthy people. Organizing participants into six groups — with groups one through three classified as low risk, and groups four through six classified as high risk — the researchers focused on groups four and six, which were classified as having a high risk of suffering heart attacks and developing Alzheimer’s. These two groups had shown a common genetic predisposition for both diseases, and the researchers found the predisposition in 30% of heart attack sufferers and 40% of those with Alzheimer’s.


“Until now, we only knew about individual genes linked to both diseases, and this was not sufficient to develop an individual test for the risk,” University of Bologna immunologist and lead study author Federico Licastro stated. “However, we have now been able to identify a genetic profile of several genes partially common to both diseases. This is the leap in quality that now enables us to conduct a test and assess a profile partially specific to both diseases.”


The researchers conceded that one of the techniques used could be controversial. To study participants’ DNA, they used a statistical method known as grade of membership analysis. While it has been applied to such diseases as mental disorders and cancers, the international scientific community still is debating its use. “However, it is only by using such statistical analyses that such diseases can be tested, conducting tests on only a few hundred cases,” Licastro said. “Classical statistics would require us to test 10, 12 or even 20 or 30 thousand cases.”

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Navarro means pharmacy for Miami’s Hispanic community

BY Antoinette Alexander

MIAMI — With new leadership at the helm, Navarro Discount Pharmacy continues its goal of catering to the needs of the Hispanic community in the Miami area. Navarro is the largest Hispanic-owned drug store chain in the United States, with 28 locations that cater to the Hispanic market through their product offerings and services.


The company, which garnered about $320 million in sales in 2009, tapped in late 2009 former Bigg’s executive Steve Kaczynski to serve as CEO, and has since further bolstered its management team as part of its expansion strategy.


In October 2010, the retailer announced the hiring of Kevin Shiplett as SVP wholesale and business development, Paul DiBrito as director of real estate and construction, and Emilio Yepez as director of e-commerce.


“Together, they’ll be working on renovating and expanding existing locations, adding new locations, identifying new partnerships and business development opportunities, and adding e-commerce capabilities to our website,” Kaczynski stated. The new online store will expand Navarro’s product offering throughout the United States and strategic foreign markets.


As part of its effort to meet the needs of the Hispanic market, the company has launched the second year of its free Diabetes Club for customers, which now includes information about juvenile diabetes. This year, the Diabetes Club primarily focuses on education specifically related to nutrition, exercise and prevention for adults and children with diabetes.

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Pharmaca continues to expand its wellness-pharmacy fusion

BY Michael Johnsen

BOULDER, Colo. — Now 10 years operating its unique footprint in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy has been revving its growth engine lately. Pharmaca is targeting three new store openings in 2011, and between three and six new stores each year through 2015 — a pace that would put the chain at 44 locations in time for its 15th anniversary. “We will be expanding outside of the states in which we currently operate in the future,” said Mark Panzer, Pharmaca president and CEO.


In November, Pharmaca unveiled its latest store design in Menlo Park, Calif. That new store refreshes the concept that has propelled Pharmaca’s success in the past decade — a melding of Eastern and Western wellness philosophies with actual licensed healthcare professionals on hand to answer any questions. Last year that formula helped increase sales by 9% to $88 million.


Even Pharmaca’s senior management team hails from opposite ends of the retail spectrum. Chairman Barry Perzow operated Capers Natural Food Markets before founding Pharmaca, and VP marketing/innovation Laura Coblentz came to Pharmaca by way of Whole Foods. Panzer was recruited to Pharmaca from Rite Aid, and David Janowicz, VP merchandising, is a Supervalu vet.

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