The common thought seems to be that antibiotics are the ultimate solution to every sniffle. That’s been the case since the discovery of antibiotics.
Antibiotics help with ailments caused by bacterial infections. But viruses? Think the common cold, most cases of strep throat, the majority of sinus infections, etc.–antibiotics don’t touch them. Speaking of antibiotics . . .
A story that caught our eye on the front page of Thursday’s paper showed the importance of raising antibiotic awareness, because these drugs are quickly becoming ineffective as so many patients demand them and too many doctors prescribe them in situations where they’ll have no effect. This leads to germs that cause bacterial infection becoming more resistant.
When too many people are given antibiotics, and germs become resistant, Z-Paks and other common drugs lose their effectiveness. And doctors lose a powerful tool in their arsenal in the fight against infection. So they turn to newer antibiotics that most germs haven’t built up resistance to yet. And the problem this particular article highlights is that companies making new antibiotics are in serious financial trouble.
“Antibiotic startups such as Achaogen and Aradigm have gone belly-up in recent months, pharmaceutical behemoths such as Novartis and Allergan have abandoned the sector, and many of the remaining American antibiotic companies are teetering toward insolvency. One of the biggest developers of antibiotics, Melinta Therapeutics, recently warned regulators that it was running out of cash,” writes Andrew Jacobs.
The article continues, “Experts say the grim financial outlook for the few companies still committed to antibiotic research is driving away investors and threatening to strangle the development of lifesaving drugs at a time when they are urgently needed.”
That’s not good. We need new antibiotics, but there’s not exactly tons of profit in making the drugs. Antibiotics don’t earn pharmaceutical companies wealth like medicines for chronic conditions because they’re expensive to make, and people use them for a short period of time and are done with them. Hard to make money on a drug most patients use just a couple of times, if at all.
But lack of profitability doesn’t decrease overall need. If a patient is admitted to the hospital with a resistant bacterial infection, the doctors there might have to rely on a more potent or alternative antibiotic. And if there isn’t one because all the companies that made them have gone out of business? Patients might die.
A CDC report from last month showed drug-resistant infections now kill 35,000 people in the United States each year and sicken 2.8 million. Worse, without new therapies, the United Nations says, the global death toll could soar to 10 million by 2050.
So now is the time to pay attention to this emergency. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Our government needs to start investing in emergency grants so research can be done to keep making these life-saving drugs. If something isn’t profitable in the private market, but a powerful need for it still exists for that product or service, that’s where government is supposed to step in.
Wait any longer, and those thousands of deaths will become millions, all because key research went unfunded. America is a world leader in pharmaceutical innovation. If our country won’t solve this, who will?
How (and why) to 'green' your Mediterranean diet – The Globe and Mail
A Mediterranean diet has been tied to better cognitive function, a lower rate of cognitive decline and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
This eating pattern, plentiful in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and olive oil, has also been associated with lower rates of age-related brain atrophy, brain damage which can lead to cognitive impairment and dementia.
So far, though, there’s sparse data from randomized controlled trials on whether following a Mediterranean diet can preserve brain volume.
New research from Israel has shown that eating a Mediterranean diet slowed the age-related loss of brain tissue. What’s more, a new take on the diet, a “green” Mediterranean diet, had even greater brain-health benefits.
The latest study
The 18-month DIRECT PLUS trial, published Jan. 10 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, investigated the effect of a high-polyphenol Mediterranean diet (a “green” Mediterranean diet) on age-related brain atrophy.
Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds found in a wide range of plant foods. DIRECT PLUS stands for Dietary Intervention Randomized Controlled Trial – Polyphenols Unprocessed.
The researchers assigned 284 adults with abdominal obesity, average age 51, to one of three diet groups: 1) healthy diet guidelines, 2) a Mediterranean diet or, 3) a higher-polyphenol green Mediterranean diet.
Both Mediterranean diets were calorie-restricted and included 28 g of walnuts (e.g., 14 walnut halves), nuts high in polyphenols.
To boost polyphenols, the green Mediterranean diet included four to five cups of green tea daily and a green shake containing Mankai, a branded strain of an aquatic plant called duckweed (or water lentils). Those in the green Mediterranean diet group also further reduced their intake of processed and red meat.
All participants received free gym memberships and a program of aerobic and resistance exercise.
Participants underwent brain MRI (magnetic-resonance-imaging) scans before and after the trial. Specific areas of the brain were measured as indicators of brain atrophy and predictors of future dementia risk.
Over 18 months, participants in both Mediterranean diet groups had a significantly lower decline in brain atrophy compared to the healthy diet guideline group. The greatest decline in brain tissue loss, however, was observed among those consuming the green Mediterranean diet, especially in people over age 50.
The green Mediterranean diet components – green tea, Mankai and walnuts – were each associated with reduced brain atrophy, as was eating less red and processed meat.
Participants in both Mediterranean diet groups also had improvements in insulin sensitivity, which was also tied to less brain volume loss.
The study didn’t show a significant effect of either Mediterranean diet on cognition, perhaps because the study wasn’t long enough and/or it involved relatively young and healthy people.
All diet groups participated in physical exercise, which may have contributed to the slowdown of brain atrophy.
The strengths of this study include participants high adherence to their diets and that, to date, it’s the longest and largest brain MRI study investigating the effect diet on brain atrophy.
How polyphenols protect the brain
The beneficial effect of the Mediterranean diet on brain aging is thought to be due, at least in part, to its abundance of polyphenols, phytochemicals which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Polyphenols can cross the blood-brain barrier and have been shown to reduce nerve cell inflammation and stimulate an increase in brain cells.
Eating a Mediterranean diet rich in fish, vegetables and olive oil is also thought to protect the brain from a buildup of proteins that form plaques and destroy brain cells.
‘Greening’ your Mediterranean diet
Following a Mediterranean eating pattern means including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, pulses, nuts and olive oil in your daily diet.
Limit red meat to three meals a week. The green Mediterranean diet limits meat even further, getting more protein from beans, lentils and nuts. Flavour meals with polyphenol-rich herbs and spices.
Build on these staples by adding more polyphenol-rich foods to your daily diet, including 28 g of walnuts. Drink three or four cups of green tea each day (white and oolong tea also have polyphenols).
Drinking a Mankai green shake may be more challenging, though, at least for Canadians. In the U.S., frozen cubes of Mankai duckweed are sold online through Amazon and WW (Weight Watchers). Mankai duckweed powder is also available online.
Add other polyphenol-rich foods to your diet, too, such as berries, apples, kale, broccoli, spinach, cocoa, tofu, edamame, flaxseed and pecans.
Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is director of food and nutrition at Medcan. Follow her on Twitter @LeslieBeckRD
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Moderna CEO says data for Omicron-specific shot likely available in March
Moderna Inc’s vaccine candidate against the Omicron coronavirus variant will enter clinical development in the next few weeks and the company expects to be able to share data with regulators around March, CEO Stephane Bancel said on Monday.
“The vaccine is being finished … it should be in the clinic in coming weeks. We are hoping in the March timeframe to be able to have data to share with regulators to figure out next steps,” Bancel said at the World Economic Forum’s virtual Davos Agenda conference.
Moderna is also developing a single vaccine that combines a booster dose against COVID-19 with its experimental flu shot. (https://reut.rs/3FAeyya)
Bancel said the best case scenario was the combined COVID/flu vaccine would be available by the fall of 2023, at least in some countries.
“Our goal is to be able to have a single annual booster so that we don’t have compliance issues where people don’t want to get two to three shots a winter.”
Many countries are already offering a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to their citizens, especially to older individuals and those who are immunocompromised, while Israel has started offering its citizens a fourth dose.
Earlier in January, Moderna’s CEO said people may need a fourth shot in the fall of 2022 as the efficacy of boosters against COVID-19 was likely to decline over the next few months.
However, booster programs have met with skepticism from some disease experts over whether, and how widely, additional doses should become available, including the European Union’s drug regulator, which has expressed doubts about the need for a fourth booster dose.
Speaking at the same event, top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said there was no evidence that repeat booster doses would overwhelm the immune system.
“Giving boosters at different times, there is really no evidence that’s going to hinder (immune response).”
Fauci said the goal should be to have a booster that induces a response against multiple potential variants.
(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)
COVID outbreak declared at Barrie hospital's Dialysis Clinic – OrilliaMatters
ROYAL VICTORIA REGIONAL HEALTH CENTRE
Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH), in collaboration with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, has declared the COVID-19 outbreak in Surgery 3 over and a new outbreak in the In-centre Dialysis Clinic.
It is important to note that when an inpatient tests positive, they are moved to a unit that specializes in caring for COVID patients. All other patients on the unit are isolated, on contact precautions, tested frequently and closely monitored for symptoms as well as caregivers tested and monitored closely. Each unit is closed to visitors and enhanced cleaning protocols are in place.
Current situation – COVID-19 positive cases related to unit outbreaks:
RVH – IOOF
Transitional Care Unit
In-centre Dialysis Clinic
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