HEALTH

Study: Supplementing with NR may improve heart health

BY Michael Johnsen

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder on Thursday associated the supplement nicotinomide riboside with improved heart health, suggesting that supplementing with NR mimics the health benefits of caloric restriction.

Scientists have long known that restricting calories can fend off physiological signs of aging, with studies in fruit flies, roundworms, rodents and even people showing that chronically slashing intake by about a third can reap myriad health benefits and, in some cases, extend lifespan. But from a public health perspective, that advice is impractical for many and dangerous for some.

But new research indicates that when people consume NR daily, it mimics caloric restriction, kick-starting the same key chemical pathways responsible for the health benefits associated with that. Supplementation also tends to improve blood pressure and heart health, particularly in those with mild hypertension, the study found.

“This was the first-ever study to give this novel compound to humans over a period of time,” said senior author Doug Seals, a professor and researcher in the Department of Integrative Physiology. “We found that it is well tolerated and appears to activate some of the same key biological pathways that calorie restriction does.”

For the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, Seals and lead author Chris Martens, then a postdoctoral fellow at CU Boulder, included 24 lean and healthy men and women ages 55 to 79 from the Boulder area.

Half were given a placebo for six weeks, then took a 500 mg twice-daily dose of nicotinamide riboside chloride (Niagen). The other half took NR for the first six weeks, followed by placebo.

The researchers found that 1,000 mg daily of NR boosted levels of another compound called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) by 60%. NAD+ is required for activation of enzymes called sirtuins, which have been credited with the beneficial effects of calorie restriction. It’s involved in a host of metabolic actions throughout the body, but it tends to decline with age.

Research suggests that as an evolutionary survival mechanism, the body conserves NAD+ when subjected to calorie restriction. But only recently have scientists begun to explore the idea of supplementing with so-called “NAD+-precursors” like NR to promote healthy aging.

“The idea is that by supplementing older adults with NR, we are not only restoring something that is lost with aging (NAD+), but we could potentially be ramping up the activity of enzymes responsible for helping protect our bodies from stress,” Martens said.

The new study also found that in 13 participants with elevated blood pressure or stage 1 hypertension (120-139/80-89 mmHg), systolic blood pressure was about 10 points lower after supplementation. A drop of that magnitude could translate to a 25% reduction in heart attack risk.

“If this magnitude of systolic blood pressure reduction with NR supplementation is confirmed in a larger clinical trial, such an effect could have broad biomedical implications,” the authors noted.

Ultimately, the authors say, such CR-mimicking compounds could provide an additional option–alongside the dietary changes and exercise currently recommended–for people whose blood pressure is not yet high enough to warrant medication but who are still at risk for a heart attack.

They stress that the study was small and “pilot in nature.”

“We are not able to make any definitive claims that this compound is safe or going to be effective for specific segments of the population,” said Martens, now an assistant professor at the University of Delaware. “What this paper provides us with is a really good stepping stone for future work.”

Martens and Seals have applied for a grant to conduct a larger clinical trial looking specifically at the impact of NR supplementation on blood pressure and heart health. Martens is also launching a separate trial looking at the impact NR has on older adults with mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.

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IRI and AnalyticsIQ help marketers better connect to influencers

BY Michael Johnsen

IRI and AnalyticsIQ on Wednesday announced a partnership that empowers CPG digital marketers to more effectively target the most active and influential users of major social media platforms.

“Instagram and other platforms are the go-to place for many shoppers, who connect with influencers on a personal level,” Nishat Mehta, president of IRI’s Media Center of Excellence, said. “Consumers are looking for advice from those they trust. The advent of social media creates a circle of connections that can influence the consumer far better than other forms of advertising. We are excited to partner with AnalyticsIQ and help marketers broaden their reach by talking to consumers that are open to trying products and sharing their authentic experience with others.”

“It’s clear that the worlds of CPG shopping and social media are converging, and there has never been a more opportune time for marketers to tap into the power of these platforms and influencers,” Anna Brantley, chief revenue officer for AnalyticsIQ, said. “We are thrilled to collaborate with IRI and provide advertisers with actionable audiences that allow them to target individuals likely to see and appreciate their message.”

Combining IRI’s predictive audiences and shopper data and AnalyticsIQ’s social media intelligence, the partnership offers advertisers the tools they need to ensure that the creative they are running on social platforms reaches the highest value users both from an engagement and purchase propensity perspective.

More than 95 new audience segments from IRI and AnalyticsIQ are available now through Acxiom company, LiveRamp’s Data Innovators program. Marketers now can download more audience information and access unique and in-demand audiences via the LiveRamp Data Store.

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Viagra Connect available OTC in the U.K.

BY Michael Johnsen

Pfizer on Tuesday announced its erectile dysfunction remedy Viagra Connect is now available without a prescription in the U.K. It will be exclusively available through Walgreens Boots Alliance’s Boots pharmacies for two weeks, the company stated.

“The launch of Viagra Connect offers men a new and convenient route of access to treat the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. It’s important to remember that erectile dysfunction is a medical condition, and that the impact often goes beyond the physical symptoms – it can lead to men feeling anxious, depressed and lacking in confidence,” Kristie Sourial medical manager, Pfizer, said. “Our hope is that the availability of Viagra Connect in pharmacies will encourage men who do nothing about their ED to seek help, and encourage those who are inclined to seek help to do so sooner.”

“We believe this is a great step in making this medicine more widely available to our customers,” Richard Bradley, pharmacy director, Boots U.K., said. “Boots is the leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer in the U.K. with over 2,500 stores, making this medicine widely accessible. … This launch further expands the role of community pharmacy and we hope that it will play a part in reducing pressures on the overall healthcare system. Erectile dysfunction can have a big impact on confidence and relationships so we hope providing better and convenient access to this treatment will help encourage men to seek help via a simple, discreet consultation in store.”

The U.K. model may inform the possible switch of erectile dysfunction remedies from prescription-only to OTC in the U.S. The generic patents protecting both Lilly’s Cialis and Pfizer’s Viagra expired last year.

If Cialis does make the transformation from Rx-only to OTC, it will be done under the guidance of Sanofi Consumer, which bought the OTC rights to the ED remedy from Lilly in 2014.

Men can purchase Viagra Connect in pharmacies and online after answering a series of straightforward questions to help determine if the product is suitable for them. Their answers will be checked over by a pharmacist before they receive the product. In-store, men can ask to speak to a pharmacist in a private consultation room if preferred.

Where Viagra Connect is supplied, pharmacists will advise men to follow-up with their doctor at their earliest convenience – no later than six months after first being supplied the product, so that any potential underlying conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease can be investigated.

It is estimated that erectile problems affect up to 21% of men – or roughly 4.3 million men in the U.K. Despite this, a new study shows that 44% of men with erectile dysfunction aged 40 and over have not sought medical help, even though it can have a significant impact on their confidence and self-esteem. Of those men that have sought help, as many as 27% admitted that they wished that they had sought help sooner.

Viagra Connect will sell for £19.99 for a 4 tablet pack and £34.99 for an 8 tablet pack. That represents approximately $30 and $50, respectively.

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