HEALTH

Species of cholesterol-busting bacteria discovered

BY Michael Johnsen

READING, England A novel species of bacteria with cholesterol-busting properties has been discovered by scientists at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain, according to the Society for General Microbiology.

Oliver Drzyzga and colleagues isolated the new bug, called Gordonia cholesterolivorans, from sewage sludge. Their findings are reported in the current issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

A steroid found in all body tissues, cholesterol is used in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries as stabilizer, emollient and water-binding agent. As a consequence, steroids — including cholesterol — are a major group of contaminants in urban sewage residues.

Gordonia bacteria have only been classed as a separate group of bacteria since 1997 but they have already proved useful as they are able to degrade a wide range of environmental pollutants including phthalates (used in plastics), rubber and hazardous compounds such as the explosive hexogen (cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine). Gordonia cholesterolivorans’ ability to break down cholesterol means that it could be used to clean up contamination.

Drzyzga and co-workers are studying the genetics of this novel bacterium to genetically modify strains that might also be used to synthesize new and industrially useful breakdown products of cholesterol.

“New steroid compounds made by these bacteria may find applications in the pharmaceutical and medical sectors in the future, but as some Gordonia species are pathogenic to humans it is unlikely that they could be used directly to treat high cholesterol-related conditions in humans,” Drzyzga said. “We are trying to work out exactly how Gordonia cholesterolivorans metabolises cholesterol so that we can identify and construct metabolically engineered strains that are more rapid and effective in breaking down cholesterol.”

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FMI postpones, reschedules annual events due to flu outbreak

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. The Food Marketing Institute last week rescheduled its date for Future Connect in Dallas, which will now be held Oct. 12 to 14, and postponed its Marketechnics to the FMI 2010 event in Las Vegas.

“FMI appreciates the support and positive reinforcement we have received from the industry as we addressed the myriad issues resulting from the postponement of two events due to the influenza outbreak,” stated Leslie Sarasin, president, CEO of FMI. “We are thrilled to announce new plans to provide the industry with the essential education and insight provided by these events.”

Future Connect will now occur Oct.12 to 14 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Dallas. All attendee registrations from the previously scheduled May dates for this event are automatically transferred to the October event. Companies may make substitutions on existing attendee registrations as needed.

Attendees should make new hotel reservations at www.fmifutureconnect.com. Registration for the event will re-open and new attendees may register online at the same Web site.

Marketechnics is postponed and will be included in the FMI 2010 event in Las Vegas. Attendees of the postponed May 2009 event will receive a credit for attendance at FMI 2010 or any other FMI event valid through May 31, 2010. FMI 2010 is scheduled for May 10 to 13, 2010 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

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Study: Ginger reduces nausea associated with chemotherapy

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. People with cancer can reduce post-chemotherapy nausea by as much as 40% by using ginger supplements, along with standard antivomiting drugs, before undergoing treatment, according to scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

About 70% of cancer patients who receive chemotherapy complain of nausea and vomiting.

“There are effective drugs to control vomiting, but the nausea is often worse because it lingers,” stated lead author Julie Ryan, assistant professor of dermatology and radiation oncology at Rochester’s James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. “Nausea is a major problem for people who undergo chemotherapy and it’s been a challenge for scientists and doctors to understand how to control it,” Ryan said.

The Phase II/III placebo-controlled, double-blind study included 644 cancer patients who would receive at least three chemotherapy treatments. They were divided into four arms that received placebos, 0.5 gram of ginger, 1 gram of ginger or 1.5 grams of ginger along with antiemetics (anti-vomiting drugs such as Zofran, Kytril, Novaban and Anzemet).

Patients took the ginger supplements three days prior to chemotherapy and three days following treatment. Patients reported nausea levels at various times of day during following their chemotherapy and those who took the lower doses had a 40% reduction.

Ginger is readily absorbed in the body and has long been considered a remedy for stomach aches. “By taking the ginger prior to chemotherapy treatment, the National Cancer Institute-funded study suggests its earlier absorption into the body may have anti-inflammatory properties,” Ryan said.

The research will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in the Patient and Survivor Care Session on Saturday, May 30, in Orlando, Fla.

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