DON’T LET COSMETIC COMPANIES CON YOU

Do you believe cosmetics can reverse the signs of aging? It would be wonderful, if true.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just again issued warnings to cosmetic companies, including Avon; Lancôme (a subsidiary of L’Oreal); Andes Natural Skin Care based in Nevada and Jason Beckett, located in New Jersey. All of the FDA letters alleged the firms marketed their products using improper claims. Simply, if a cosmetic could really cure wrinkles, they would be a drug and not cosmetic, which is not to change your body’s structures or functioning. The testing of drug costs millions while, in fact, anyone can mix things in his or her kitchen and put it on the market as a cosmetic.

Will the FDA’s latest efforts bring about any changes? Maybe in the names of the anti-aging products but the FDA is poor and the big cosmetic manufactures have millions to fight any court case against them

I believed I was early in the fight against false claims by cosmetic companies with my book: A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients first published by Crown in 1972 and today in its Seventh Edition. I received information about forthcoming legislations regarding cosmetics and other consumer products from senators such as the late Ted Kennedy. Nothing came of their efforts in Congress.

I have to admit that I and all the other consumer groups were late in game. In researching this subject. I found journal papers from as far back as 1960 citing the problem about false advertising by cosmetic firms. One I liked most was from: 16 Business Law.81 (1960-1961) Federal Trade Commission Regulation of Food, Drug And Cosmetic Advertising by Earl W. Kintner, Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. He wrote” The most cursory backward glance instantly reveal that the false and misleading description of foods, drugs and cosmetics has plagued mankind since the days of the first witch doctor.”

In 1960, when Kintner was Chairman of the FTC, 560 complaints were filed 410 orders involving monopolies and 359 complaints against deceptive practices. His prior job as a member of the UN’s War Crimes Commission in London was apparently a lot easier. The Commission just had to prove guilt and rule on  punishment for felons. The Commission would have the very difficult  job  of convincing  today’s age-panicked consumers of  cosmetic fraud.  People are willing to pay sometimes very big money for  products promoted to hold back the wrinkles of time.

The only way to combat false advertising of cosmetics is by you and other consumers knowing the facts. Cosmetic companies are very sensitive to bad publicity. It can waste almost all the money spent on promotion. And sometimes, cosmetics can contain potentially harmful ingredients.

Johnson and Johnson, for example, makers of Aveno, Neutrogena and Johnson Baby Shampoo recently announced it would be removing carcinogens and other toxic chemicals from baby and adult products.

I believe that being able to look up ingredients in my Consumer’s Dictionary of 
Cosmetic Ingredients 
helped but the major credit which made J&J take action is very much due to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a national coalition of more than 175 nonprofit organizations working to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and led by The Breast Cancer Fund; Clean Water Action; Commonweal; Environmental Working Group (EWG) ;Friends of the Earth, and Women’s Voices for the Earth. The research they accumulated and the pressure they put on politicians and companies has been very powerful. The coalition did emphasize harmful ingredients but I believe that when they made their findings public it was a major factor in bringing about the beginning of change in the freewheeling cosmetic industry.

As far as false advertising, I like the observation one of my friends sent me via e-mail: “Relax: At least wrinkles don’t hurt!”

A PILL BY ANY OTHER NAME

What’s the pill you are taking?

I spent many years writing seven editions of A Consumers’ Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients and A Consumers’ Dictionary of Food Additives so that you could understand the long chemical names on the label. At the beginning, many of you didn’t know anything listed with dextrose has sugar or that sodium was the name used for salt. You are more knowledgeable. There are hundreds of ingredients that, if you don’t know what they are, you can look them up in my dictionaries.

Now I discovered an even more confounding problem. The labels on medicines. In the past, when I was young are sharp-sighted and took no regular medications, I didn’t  pay sufficient attention to what was written. If I did have a question, I would just grab a Physician’s Desk Reference and compare the pill to a colored picture of it and find out what it was.

Now, I am older, wear glasses and can’t read the tiny print on the labels. There are millions of us past 40 years who can’t see the fine print and if we can, we may not know what it means.

To make matters worse, our pharmaceutical manufacturers have moved from the United States to far off places such as India and China. Aside from the lack of FDA supervision (that’s another story), the pills are usually orange or pink and round. You used to be able to tell that a small, white triangular pill was to Norvasc®, for example is amlodipine besylate produced by Pfizer and is a triangular white pill.  Daikichi Sankoyuo produces a generic amlodipine beyslate/olmesartan medoxomil,) under the name,Azor®) .It is a round yellow pill that looks like hundreds of other generic medications. And according to druggist with whom I spoke, distributors may hand out different colored generic amlodipine beyslate from more than 50 manufacturers. The colors vary from the original Norvasc® The appearance of a brand-name drug is trademarked. Supposedly, the active ingredients should be identical. Is it?

Pharmacists are required to fill your prescriptions with generics unless your physician writes you must have the name brand. The “no-name” pills may come from one company or another. One brand may have a lot of the active ingredient and the other may have almost none. I swallowed a generic medication made by a large company in India and immediately became ill. When I was switched to another generic of the same medication made by another company, I was fine. Of course, it may have just been a coincidence and it would be hard to prove the first generic was the cause of the upset unless many people who had the same reaction took the time to report it.

Generics are cheaper and that is why the government and the insurance companies are insisting we take them.  But how do we know where the pills were produced? Who was supervising to determine the amount of the medication and the inactive ingredient were in balance? Is anybody from the FDA inspecting the foreign sources of generics? There are reportedly three US agents assigned to Chinese pharmaceutical manufactures who now produce a large percentage of our medications. 

 Pharmacists are required to fill your prescriptions with generics unless your physician writes you must have the name brand. The “no-name” pills may come from one company or another. One brand may have a lot of the active ingredient and the other may have almost none. I swallowed a generic medication made by a large company in India and immediately became ill. 

Generics are cheaper and that is why the government and the insurance companies are insisting we take them.  But how do we know where the pills were produced? Who was supervising to determine the amount of the medication and the inactive ingredient were in balance? Is anybody from the FDA inspecting the foreign sources of generics? There are reportedly three US agents assigned to Chinese pharmaceutical manufactures who now produce a large percentage of our medications.

The Internet has made it possible to allow us to find the trade name of the generic medications we have been given. However, as pointed out, some generic drugs are manufactured by several manufacturers, and pill identification databases may not have images of all the generic versions. One of the best medication identifying sources is : WebMD’S http://www.rxlist.com/script/main/hp.asp. The FDA also provides information many generics but you have to list the trade name of the drug first: .http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm194952.htm

THE NEW CAR SMELL MAY BE STINKY

The Internet and TV media are having fun about the “dangers” of the “New Car Smell” which subliminally lures the buyer even of a used car to be more prone to opt for the vehicle. The new car smell, which becomes especially pungent after the car has been sitting in the sun for a few hours, is partly the pungent odor of phthalates along with many other chemicals volatilizing in the closed environment of the vehicle.

It is not so humorous when you consider the chemicals are inhaled and added to the many toxic volatile chemicals in your environment including your home, your office and your yard. In fact, I wrote a book about it, A Consumer’s Dictionary of Household, Yard and Office Chemicals first published by Crown in 1992 and now available as an updated E-book.

Phthalates, derived from the organic chemical phthalic acid, include a large group of chemicals. World production of phthalates is estimated to be several million tons a year. . Phthalate compounds are used in just about every major product category including cosmetics, construction, automotive, household, apparel, toys packaging and medicinal material. You undoubtedly have phthalates in your body. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected phthalates in the urine of every Americans tested. Minute levels of phthalates used in toys, building materials, drug capsules, cosmetics and perfumes, have been statistically linked to sperm damage in men and genital changes, asthma and allergies in children. .Recent observations indicate some phthalates may be mutagenic, and cancer-causing

In 2004, the European Union banned phthalates in nailpolish. The FDA said in 2004 that phthalates are safe for humans in the amounts to which we are exposed. In 2008, The National Research Council (NRC) launched a project funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate the potential health effects of phthlates including accumulative risks

Cynics say there are so many reports of minute amount of toxins and there is really nothing to worry about. It’s the dose that counts. But I always say tell me how much of a carcinogen causes cancer and what is the effect of the chemicals around us, in us and on us?, Here’s a pertinent quote, I believe, from my A Consumer’s Dictionary of Household, Yard and Office Chemicals by Devra Davis, PhD, MPH, Director, Center for Environmental Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, At the Annual Conference of the American Medical Writers Association in 2005. She said among the reasons scientists believe in environmental causes of cancer:

  • Fewer than 1 in 10 cases of breast cancer occur in women born with genetic defects. The others are believed to be environmental.
  • The cancer risk for adopted children reflects their adoptive parents, not their biologic parents.
  • Fewer than half of identical twins get the same cancer.
  • Rates of cancer are higher for people employed outside the home.
  • The cancer risk for immigrants changes to that of their new country.
  • The majority of cancer cases have no known risk factors.
  • Disease is more aggressive in women with higher residues of toxins in their blood.

Manufacturers say there is no reliable evidence that phthalates cause any health problems. Newly identified markers are providing a better indication of our exposure to phthalates. So next time you sniff at the potential of adverse effects of the “New Car Scent” don’t laugh. That new car smell, which becomes especially noticeable after the car has been sitting in the sun for a few hours, is partly the pungent odor of phthalates volatilizing and many other chemicals floating around the enclosed environment of your car, especially if the temperature is high.

SENATE TAKES A NIP OUT OF FOOD CONTAMINATION

I am recovering from a mysterious case of food poisoning. It is mysterious because not one of the 19 guests at Thanksgiving table became ill except me. And yes, I carefully washed my hands and counters while preparing the turkey.

The only thing I ate that no one else did was a sour tomato. I suspect it but can’t prove it since my son threw out the container while I was suffering the symptoms of the illness.

The Senate just passed a much needed overhaul of he nation’s food safety system, November 30, 2010, after thousands of people became ill from tainted dairy, vegetables, poultry, meat and other common edibles in recent years. Some of the victims died. In fact, I was wishing that I might pass away during the worst of the symptoms.

Recent legislation passed by the Senate 73-25 revamps the inspection and oversight laws established in the 1930s. The new legislation is aimed at strengthening the Food and Drug Administration that has long been understaffed, underfunded, and a political football The US House must still accept the Senate amendments before the measure can be forwarded to the President, who urged the House to “act quickly” on this critical bill.

The FDA has paid most attention to medical safety in recent times. That’s fine but most of us take a pill or two but all of us eat every day. The FDA is also responsible for overseeing cosmetics which have had pretty much free reign to reach the market. To make things more difficult, a large percentage of our foods, cosmetics, and their ingredients are made overseas in China, India and other countries, sometimes without any oversight at all.

In my first book, Poisons In Your Food (published 1969 and updated in 1991 by Crown) I quoted Howard Bauman, PhD, then vice president of the Pillsbury Company, who, at the American Health Association-sponsored National Conference on Food Protection warned of a “mass catastrophe” in the U.S. food supply: “Can you imagine the runways and control towers of the thirties trying to keep track of and land jets at our airports today? It seems ridiculous, but that’s exactly what we’re doing in the food business,” Dr. Bauman said.

In the Seventh Edition of my Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives published last year, I pointed out some of the problems the FDA and other food safety agencies in other countries face. For example:
• The problem of underfunding , understaffing, and shortage of qualified experts
• The problem that almost no regulatory testing is actually done in science laboratories.
• The problem of how the additives in our food may interact with the drugs, cosmetics, and environmental chemicals in our lives.

I am delighted, just as most other consumer advocates are, Congress is trying to pass a law that will help to keep our food supply safer. As you can determine, however, that it is a tremendous undertaking that will cost millions of dollars that we don’t have in our treasury budget. Should our food safety, however, take priority over our wars overseas?

In 1985, the United States had the largest documented outbreak of foodborne illness in the nation’s history. The cause was bacterial contamination in a single Illinois milk plant— contamination that affected approximately 200,000 people.

An epidemiologist with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention whose job it is to track the incidence of illnesses, admits that the reports of foodborne diseases that do filter in to the Centers are only the tip of the iceberg and that the number of true outbreaks is actually fifty to one hundred times greater than the number reported.

I hope a weakened Congress does pass the new food safety bill but I don’t think I will ever find out if it was the green tomato that made me sick unless others report they also had a problem with green tomatos. Usually, people with ordinary food poisoning never report it. You can play an important part in strengthening the new law (if it is enacted), by reporting any adverse event with FDA-regulated problems such as food poisoning: The FDA emergency, 24 hour number, is 301-443-1240

.”

Meals Just Like Mother Didn’t Make

If the next generation becomes nostalgic for a meal “just like Mother made” they will have to go to the supermarket and pick up several packages of pre-cooked items. Moms are cooking less and less.

President of The NPD Group’s North American food and beverage unit, Mark East, told Food Monitor.com: “The fast and hectic pace of the lives we lead has had the single greatest impact on this country’s eating behaviors. It’s clear by the changes we’ve observed over the past 30 years that the Google generation wants things now.”

In particular, the organization found that 72 percent of main meals were prepared at home from scratch in 1980, compared to 59 percent today. And the number of food items used to make those meals has declined too – from 4.44 to 3.5.

 

European moms are also running out the door instead of staying in the kitchen. According to Datamonitor, a consumer products database, strong retail growth for convenience food products, with cereal bars and ready meals showing the greatest increase in demand.

The analysts said that across Europe, sales of sports and energy bars and breakfast replacement bars are predicted to grow at an annual rate of 12 per cent.

Fish-based ready meals, Datamonitor experts predict will experience the greatest increase in this sector, with an annual growth rate of 11 per cent.

There is increasing scope for launching innovative on-the-go products as people lead increasingly busy lives.

I admit that about once a week when deadlines and family demands impact my time. I will rush into a “health food” supermarket and pick up pre-washed salad, pre-washed spinach, pre-cooked chicken, and pre-cooked rice.  I should know better. The “fresh” produce comes hundreds of miles in trains after being doused with pesticides and handled by numerous other people.  A Chicken can be really dangerous injected with hormones and salt water and antibiotics and perhaps contaminated with salmonella— a sometimes fatal bacteria, although the store advertises that the chickens are happily free range and hormone free but who knows? Certainly not the United States Department of Agriculture, the US Food and Drug Administration and the local health officers.

The additives to enhance and/or preserve pre-prepared food are part of the estimated $23 billion food additives market.  Most additives are added to feed our illusions. We want enhanced food because all our lives we have been subjected to beautiful pictures of foods in our magazines, on television and on the Internet.

Are we fooling ourselves by believing the perfect, unblemished produce in the traditional supermarket is healthy for us? Could it because even the worms and bugs are afraid to eat it?

I will re-read the Seventh Edition of my Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives (Crown) and try to follow my own advice: “The less people who handle my food before I do the better. The fewer additives listed or unlisted the safer.”

So if you don’t hear from me for awhile, you’ll know I slowed down my pace and I am spending more time in kitchen cooking from the start and sitting at the dinning room table with family and friends —really enjoying home cooked meals like my mother made. She was a good cook just like her mother and her aunts.

New Type of Alzheimer’s Drug May Prevent, Slow or Treat The Disease

Daniel Chain, Ph.D, the son of a Nobel Prize Winner and a distinguished neurobiologist himself, woke up one Sunday night 1996 and had a sudden inspiration– “Why not monocolonal antibodies?”

Chairman and chief executive officer of Manhattan-based Intellect Neurosciences, Dr.
Chain, a distinguished neurobiologist, was interested in finding a innovative medication
that can slow down, arrest and ultimately prevent Alzheimer’s disease – a devastating condition afflicting 30 million people worldwide. Contrary to drugs currently on the market, which only treat symptoms, Dr. Chain’s aims was to create a new class of disease-modifying Alzheimer’s drugs that attack the underlying pathologies.

Monclonal Antibodies

Moncolonal antibodies are a type of protein made in the laboratory that can find and bind to a specific substance. Could a monoclonal antibody be developed that would latch on to amyloid, a dense deposit of protein found as plaques on the cells and nerves of Alzheimer’s patients at autopsy? There is no unanimous agreement that amyloid plaques are the cause of the condition but may be just a symptom or an extraneous factor.

Amyloid plaques were first noted by Dr. Louis Alzheimer’s in 1906 . The main constituent of the plaques is the Beta Amyloid protein which is comprised of fragments of a much larger protein called the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) implicated in regulating numerous physiological functions in the body. Beta Amyloid can accumulate for different reasons in the brain. The naturally sticky fragments form clumps that increase in number and density until eventually, the clumps deposit as insoluble plaques onto the surface of nerve cells. Are these plaques toxic? Are they beneficial? Do their roles change at different stages of the disease? As the plaques mature in the brain they trigger inflammation which damages the cells causing them to die.

Toxic Substance Floating In Brain Fluid

Dr. Chain now believes that there is a toxic substance floating around in brain fluid that is a precursor to amyloid clumps and plaques.

“Perhaps,” he reasons, “the plaques of hardened amyloid found on the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients may be the way the brain protects itself from the toxic amyloid precursor.”

Drug Companies At Work On The New Type of Drug
He says he decided to develop a method of harnessing certain monoclonal antibodies that he believes can be used to render the precursor harmless and thus prevent or improve Alzheimer’s destruction of the brain cells.

Dr. Chain was successful and he patented the technique he developed and called it Antesenilin. His invention is currently being used by several of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies which have taken licenses to Dr. Chain’s patents from which Intellect Neurosciences stands to obtain royalties from sales if and when the drugs are approved by the FDA pending completion of clinical trials. The most advanced product, Bapineuzumab, is in Phase 3 trials involving several thousand Alzheimer’s patients world-wide. Bapineuzumab is being co-developed by Wyeth/Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. Dr. Chain’s patents have already been granted in Europe, Japan, China and elsewhere

Dr. Chain points out there are two basic types of Alzheimer’s. One that occurs in 5 to 10 percent relatively early 40-50 and invariably have a genetic pre-disposition .carried in families .The other starts later about 65 years and up and has known and unknown causes.

He said the tests first conducted with Bapineuzumab, involved a small group about 250 patients: “They did not separate out those with the gene for the disease and those who developed it later in life. It did seem to indicate that those who developed it later in life were benefited by the drug but not those who carried the gene.”

A study involving several thousand people –separating the two types of Alzheimer’s—are now underway.

Bapineuzumab May Be On The Market Within Three Years

Dr. Chain said he hopes that within three years, Bapineuzumab will be on the market.

What about side-effects?

So far, he said, he, there is some edema—(swelling) –but it goes away and in lower doses it does not occur. at all.

Can water pollution affect the genitals of both girls and boys?

There have been numerous articles lately in scientific journals about the average age of puberty decreasing in American girls. Richard H. Reindollar, M.D. – Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire and his colleagues, for example, wrote on Endotext.org’s website, an international source of information for physicians, overall incidence of sexual precocity has been estimated to be 1:5,000 to 1:10,000 children. The female to male ratio is approximately 10:1

The classic definition of sexual precocity is the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics before the age of 8 years. The phenomenon was revealed in a study published in 1997 by a research team led by Dr. Herman-Giddens. Pediatricians around the country rated sexual maturation in 17,077 girls ages 3 to 12. The study’s conclusion was breasts and/or pubic hairs were far more common in 7- and 8-year-olds than medical textbooks had been reporting.

The scientists now studying premature sexual maturation in girls are mostly blaming it on children being overweight. The scientists point out fat releases hormones which could lead to premature puberty.

Dr. Frank Brio, the director of adolescent medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, was quoted in the NY Times as agreeing that overweight girls were more likely to have breast development but added it was possible that environmental chemicals were also playing a role.

“It’s certainly throwing up a warning flag,” Dr. Biro said. “I think we need to think about the stuff we’re exposing our bodies to and the bodies of our kids. This is a wake-up call, and I think we need to pay attention to it.”

What chemicals in the environment may affect hormones?

So-called Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDC’s) are chemicals that mimic the body’s natural hormones, according to JA. Katzenellenbogen, professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois, writing in Environmental health in 1995: “They are environmental agents that interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism, binding, action or elimination of natural hormones in the body responsible for the maintenance of homeostasis and the regulation of developmental processes.”

There have been many reports about EDCs adversely affecting sperm production in male and causing birth defects in male fetuses. David Norris, PhD, an integrative physiology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, for example, recently reported at the 92nd Endocrine Society’s meeting in San Francisco fish swimming in polluted waters may be the “canaries” alerting humans about endocrine disrupters. He says that even though the levels of the chemicals in waters fish swam in were very low, the substances proved to be endocrine disrupters.

How do EDCs Get In our Water?

One of the answers to EDCs in water may be our use of Personal Care Products. In 2008 a study carried out on behalf of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) claimed that 95 percent of the waterways in the San Francisco Bay area were contaminated with EDCs traced to personal care products.

In March 2009, still another study from the Baylor University showed that fish samples from US waterways are frequently contained residues of personal care products. Working with the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the Texas scientists reported they also detected low-level residues of several human medications.

Medicines in the water

While the study found the residue of several pharmaceutical and personal care products in fish tissue, it also demonstrated for the first time that fish from several locations across the country are exposed to multiple pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) in effluent-dominated waterways, according to Dr. Bryan Brooks, associate professor at Baylor University.

The US Environmental Agency (EPA) made a pledge in August 2008 to further investigate the effects PPCPs have on the nation’s waterways. The EPA-sponsored scientists tested for 36 different compounds in fish samples sourced at effluent-dominated waterways – 24 originating form medicines and 12 originating from personal care products. Of this total, the scientists found the residues of two compounds from personal care products and seven compounds commonly found in pharmaceutical products.

The two personal care compounds were galaxolide and tonalide, both fragrances that are used in a wide variety of soaps and other personal care products.

Feminized Male Fish

Although the scientists say the impact of all these compounds on the fish is not fully understood, the researchers stress there is documented evidence to suggest the contaminants lead to changes in behavioral patterns that influence fish survival.

Dr. Norris reported at the recent Endocrine Society meeting 18 out of the 19 wastewater samples that were examined contained trace levels of Bisphenol A. It is used in plastic baby bottles; food and beverage can linings and other products. The Centers for Disease Control estimated in 2004 that 95 percent of Americans have the chemical in their urine. A 2007 report from the US National Toxicology Program and the National Institutes of Health concluded Bisphenol A presents “some concern” about exposure of fetuses and children at current human exposure.

Future Generations May Be Affected

Are EDCs contributing to the early sexual development of girls?

Are EDCs leading to feminization of boys?

Dr. Norris warned at the recent Endocrine Society meeting: “The fish are a wake-up call. Our bodies and those of the much more sensitive human fetus are being exposed everyday to a variety of chemicals that are capable of altering not only our development and physiology but that of future generations as well.”

Resources: Chemicals Remaining after Wastewater Treatment Change the Gender of Fish

Released: 6/21/2010 12:15 PM EDT

Source: Endocrine Society

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/water/wastewater/pharm.html

JA. Katzenellenbogen , Environmental health Health Perspect. 103 Suppl 7:99-101(1995)

New Kind of Alzheimer’s Drug May Prevent or Treat The Disease

Daniel Chain,Ph.D, the son of a Nobel Prize Winner and a distinguished neurobiologist  himself, woke up one Sunday night 1996 and had a sudden inspiration– “Why not monocolonal antibodies?”

Chairman and chief executive officer of Manhattan-based Intellect Neurosciences, Dr. Chainwas interested in finding an innovative medication that can slow down, arrest and ultimately prevent Alzheimer’s disease – a devastating condition afflicting 30 million people worldwide. Contrary to current drugs on the market, which only treat symptoms, Dr. Chain’s aim was to create a new class of disease-modifying Alzheimer’s drugs that attack the underlying pathologies.

 Monclonal Antibodies

 Moncolonal antibodies are a type of protein made in the laboratory designed  to find and bind to a specific substance. Could a monoclonal antibody be developed that would latch on to amyloid, a dense deposit of protein found as plaques on the cells and nerves of Alzheimer’s patients at autopsy? There is no unanimous agreement that amyloid plaques are the cause of the condition but may be just a symptom or an extraneous factor.

Amyloid plaques were first noted by Dr. Louis Alzheimer’s in 1906 . The main constituent of the plaques is the Beta Amyloid protein which is comprised of fragments of a much larger protein called the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) implicated in regulating numerous physiological functions in the body.  Beta Amyloid can accumulate for different reasons in the brain.  The naturally sticky fragments form clumps that increase in number and density until eventually, the clumps deposit as insoluble plaques onto the surface of nerve cells. Are these plaques toxic? Are they beneficial?  Do their roles change at different stages of the disease? As the plaques mature in the brain do they trigger inflammation which damages the cells causing them to die?

Toxic Substance Floating In Brain Fluid

 Dr. Chain now believes that there is a toxic substance floating around in brain fluid that is a precursor to amyloid clumps and plaques.

 “Perhaps,” he reasons, “the plaques of hardened amyloid found on the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients may be the way the brain actually protects itself from the toxic amyloid precursor.”

Drug Companies At Work On The New Type of Drug

He says  he decided to develop a method of harnessing certain monoclonal antibodies that he believes can be used to render the precursor harmless and thus prevent or improve Alzheimer’s destruction of the brain cells.

Dr. Chain was successful and he patented the technique he developed for amyloid precursor seeking monoclonal antibodies. He calls it Antisenilin for anti-senility. His invention is currently being used by several of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies which have taken licenses to Dr. Chain’s patents from which Intellect Neurosciences stands to obtain royalties from sales if and when the drugs are approved by the FDA . The most advanced product, Bapineuzumab, is in Phase 3 clincal trials involving several thousand Alzheimer’s patients world-wide. Bapineuzumab is being co-developed by Wyeth/Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.  Dr. Chain’s patents have already been granted in Europe, Japan, China and elsewhere

Dr. Chain points out there are two basic types of Alzheimer’s. One that occurs in 5 to 10 percent relatively early at 40-50 years and invariably has a genetic pre-disposition carried in families. The other starts later– about 65 years and up –and has known and unknown causes.

He said the tests first conducted with bapineuzumab, involved a small group about 250 patients: “The researchers did not separate out those with the gene for the disease and those who developed Alzheimer’s later in life. Results did seem to indicate that those who developed it later in life were benefited by the drug but not those who carried the gene.”

Studies involving several thousand people –separating the two types of Alzheimer’s—are now underway.

Bapineuzumab May Be On The Market Within Three Years

Dr. Chain said he hopes that within three years, bapineuzumab will be on the market.

What about side-effects?

So far, he said, he, there is some edema—(swelling) –but it goes away and in lower doses it does not occur at all.

THE MYSTERIOUS SKIN DISEASE THAT IS OR ISN’T REAL


Do you have a mysterious condition? Has your health care professional, unable to diagnose it, told you your symptoms may be psychological?

Scientists and US government once said the following diseases were imaginary:

  • Agent Orange Syndrome. Between 1965 and 1970, the U.S. Air Force sprayed more than 40 million pounds of Agent Orange over 5 million acres of forest in Vietnam and Cambodia. The herbicide– 50/50 mixture of two herbicides, 2, 4-D and 2, 4, 5-T which formed the highly toxic compound dioxin—was later found to cause birth defects and such serious illnesses as cancer, adult-onset diabetes, liver failure, and chlor-acne.
  • Gulf War Syndrome.  A wide spectrum of illnesses and symptoms ranging from asthma to sexual dysfunction were reported by U.S. and U.S. allied soldiers who served in the Persian Gulf War in 1990–1991. There is still much debate over the origin and nature of Gulf War syndrome. The US Department of Defense has failed to establish a definite cause for the disorder. Veterans who have the illness experience a wide range of debilitating symptoms that elude a single diagnosis. Common symptoms include fatigue, trouble breathing, headaches, disturbed sleep, memory loss, and lack of concentration. Similar experiences among Gulf War veterans have been reported in the United Kingdom and Canada.
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity. A variety of studies by CDC and others have shown that between 1 and 4 million Americans suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). They are seriously impaired, at least a quarter are unemployed or on disability because of CFS. The CDC says on it website: “The cause or causes of CFS have not been identified and no specific diagnostic tests are available.”

  • Fibromyalgia an increasingly recognized chronic pain illness which is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal aches, pain and stiffness, soft tissue tenderness, general fatigue and sleep disturbances. There are no blood tests or X-ray tests that help the doctor determine whether someone has fibromyalgia. These tests are done to exclude other possible diagnoses. Therefore, the diagnosis of fibromyalgia is made purely on clinical grounds based on the doctor’s history and physical examination.
  • 9/11 First Responders’ Illness. Doctors treating sickened ground zero workers offered Congress a detailed diagnosis six years after the destruction of the Trade Centers of the ailments affecting thousands but warned that there’s no way to determine how many more workers may become afflicted with life-threatening illnesses.  The First Responders’ ailments range from runny noses to laryngitis to lung disease. Scores have died, many from of a type of lung cancer.

I found the US Food and Drug Administration disbelieving parents who noticed sugar and artificial coloring agitated their children when I researched my books, A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives and A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients (Three Rivers Press). In 1982, a Consensus Development Panel of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded there was no scientific evidence to support the claim that additives or colorings cause hyperactivity. The British Food Standards Agency, however, disagrees and in 2007 revised its advice about certain artificial yellow and red colorings because the additives apparently cause hyperactivity in children.

When I wrote in A Consumer’s Dictionary of Household, Yard and Office Chemicals (ASJA Press), the idea that pesticides could cause farmers to be susceptible to the “shaking disease”, Parkinson’s, again government agencies were being skeptical. In April 2009, University of California researchers reported they found that residents who lived within 500 meters of fields sprayed with pesticides between 1974 and 1999 had a 75-percent increased risk for Parkinson’s.

In addition, people who were diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 60 or younger were found to have been at much higher risk because they had been exposed to the pesticides maneb or paraquat between 1974 and 1989—years when they would have been children, teens or young adults.

The patients who complained about the symptoms of these “non-diseases” were finally vindicated when researchers eventually discovered evidence of an organic basis for their complaints. Now another condition is being attributed to imagination or suggestibility—Morgellon’s Disease.

Mary Leitao, a Pennsylvania doctor’s wife, observed in 2001 her two-year-old son had developed sores under his lip. He began to complain of “bugs” bothering his skin. Leitao, who graduated with a BS in Biology, and worked for five years at Boston hospitals as a lab technician, visited eight different doctors who were unable to find any disease, allergy, or rare disorder about her son’s described symptoms. She was finally told she, herself, had a psychological problem.

Determined to find the answer, she established The Morgellons Research Foundation (MRF) in 2004 to raise awareness and funding for scientific research concerning the poorly understood condition which she claimed can be disfiguring and disabling. Leitao chose the name Morgellons from a description of an illness in the monograph A Letter to a Friend by Sir Thomas Browne in 1690. The doctor’s wife had hoped to receive information from researchers or physicians who might understand Morgellons. Instead thousands of others contacted her describing their mysterious skin ailments accompanied by neurological symptoms—fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and other manifestations.

The Morgellons Research Foundation and self-diagnosed Morgellons patients successfully lobbied members of Congress and the U.S. government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the proposed condition.

The CDC just recently set up a research program at Kaiser Permanente in California, US, to try to find an answer to whether “Morgellons” is a true disease. Persons who suffer from this condition, the CDC says, report a range of skin complaints including crawling, biting and stinging sensations; granules, threads, fibers, or black speck-like materials on or beneath the skin; and/or skin rashes or sores. In addition to skin symptoms, some sufferers also report fatigue, mental confusion, short term memory loss, joint pain, and changes in vision. The CDC admits “At this time, scientists and doctors do not know what causes this condition.”

The CDC is a public health institution that is a part of the US federal government but does not provide healthcare or maintain a referral list of providers. CDC maintains a telephone number with a pre-recorded voicemail and an email account to which you can send inquiries. The agency is not able to provide individual responses to each inquiry. To learn more about the investigation, please refer to the following link: www.cdc.gov/unexplaineddermopathy/investigation.html. Email: morgellonssyndrome@cdc.gov or Phone: 404-718-1199 (Pre-recorded message with voicemail).http://www.cdc.gov/unexplaineddermopathy/

Right now, the US government is somewhat skeptical about Morgellons. As occurred with the conditions mentioned at the beginning of this article, the symptoms Leitao describes were first ascribed to psychological problems. Will the controversial Morgellon’s Disease also turn out to be a real syndrome when the cause or causes may be discovered or will it turn out, after all, just a figment of thousands of people’s imaginations?

Stay tuned!

THE PROMISE AND PERIL OF NANOTECHNOLOGY

If you follow my blogs and books, you may know that I am fascinated by nanotechnology and at the same time astounded the general public almost completely ignores the promise and peril of these nearly invisible molecules. The lack of attention from consumers may be because they think it is science fiction or it is a technology that even the scientists and regulators don’t fully understand.

In the Seventh Edition of my Consumers’ Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients which will be published in October 2009 by Crown/Three Rivers Press, I write:

“What is nanotechnology and why is it important to cosmetic manufacturers despite the caution of scientists, government agencies and consumers? Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter; a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers wide. Some of the applications of the tiny substances are from practical to fantastic to potentially dangerous. Although the nanotechnology industry is just starting out, it is already booming. It is projected to capture 14% of the US $2.6 trillion global manufacturing market… In contrast, it made up less than 0.1% just three years ago. The nanoparticle size positively affects dispersibility, skin feel and transparency on the skin.
     Some critics of nanotechnology say that nanoparticles could easily be inhaled absorbed through the skin or build up in the environment. Others have likened the materials to asbestos, which is now known to cause lung cancer and other diseases. When nanoparticles in cosmetics penetrate the skin and move around the body what happens to them? No one knows because at this writing, they are untraceable.
     A recent report based on research from US scientists, for example, shows that nanoparticles used in certain sun cream formulations can affect mice brain cells by upsetting the chemical balance and potentially causing neurological damage. The Study, carried out by Bellina Veronesi of the US Environmental Protection Agency and published on the website Nature.com, looked at the affects of nano-sized Titania, now commonly used in sun cream formulations and often labeled titanium oxide…Although Veronesi stressed that the research does not necessarily imply that the Titania grains are harmful to the human body and other experts have aired caution over the interpretation of the findings, it does add to a growing body of research that suggests potential risks might exists when certain compounds are reduced to nano size.”
        “Dr. Andrew Maynard, science advisor to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, is an internationally recognized expert on airborne particles. According to Maynard, aerosol sprays can produce breathable particles a few micrometers in size that can remain airborne for long periods of time and can reach the sensitive deep lung if inhaled. Once deposited, there is the possibility of chemicals or nanoparticles (if present) in the droplets causing damage.
    “David Rejeski, Director, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center says “We are about to be inundated with hundreds, if not thousands, of new products but governments are not ready. Industry and trade groups are not prepared. A research strategy for addressing possible human health or environmental risks is not in place, and the public is not informed.”
    The Consumers Union wrote to the FDA asking that they require a full safety assessment on the use of nanoparticles in cosmetics, sunscreens and sunblocks, before a product is allowed to market. In addition, the group has called for the labeling of nanoparticles in products so that consumers can make an informed choice. “

In the Seventh Edition of my Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives which was published by Crown/Three Rivers in April 2009, I wrote, in part, of nanotechnology and food:

New developments, however, are never without warning. Many scientists and consumers are wary of nanotech food. For example, certain nanoparticles possess the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and can serve as carriers for other molecules. Information on the bioaccumulation and potential toxic effects of inhalation and/or ingestion of free engineered nanoparticles and their long-term implications for public health is needed. Nanoscale materials may also present new challenges in relation to exposure assessment, including measurement of nanoparticles in the body and in complex food composition.
    “Approval systems for food additives have not, in the past, taken much heed of the particle size of the additive. For nanoparticles, this is obviously an important aspect since nanoparticles may be handled differently in the body than their previously approved, macro counterparts. It is likely that the approach will vary from country to country. Most scientific committees that have reviewed the initial applications of nanotechnology conclude that while consumers are likely to benefit from this technology, new data and new measurement approaches may be needed to ensure that the safety of products using nanotechnology are properly assessed. Food industry experts predict that nanotechnology will have a significant impact on food products in a variety of ways both directly and indirectly. Most foodstuffs contain natural nanoscale particles. Nanotechnology-based products are increasingly being used to produce antimicrobial food contact materials commercially available as packaging or as coatings. Current research on such ‘smart’ surfaces is aimed at the development of surfaces that can detect bacterial contamination and react against bacterial growth.
Nanoscale materials may also present new challenges in relation to exposure assessment, including measurement of nanoparticles in the body and in complex food composition.”
     Cosmetics and food aren’t the only promise and perils linked to nanotechnology. Demand for nanotechnology medical products will grow by more than 17 percent annually to reach $53 billion in 2011, according to a recent report from The Freedonia Group. By 2016, new products such as nanodiagnostics, nanotech-based medical supplies and nanomedicines will drive demand to more than $110 billion, the report added.
    The advocates of nanohealthcare say the technology will enhance the quality and performance of diagnostic products. For example, nanosized antibodies labels and DNA probes will improve the speed, accuracy, capabilities and cost effectiveness of in laboratory diagnostic testing. Freedonia anticipated these performance advantages and the broadening range of nanodiagnostics will increase demand for these products
    The group predicted that the long-term impact of nanotechnology will include new medical supply and device coatings, as well as new medical implants. Fredonia Group predicted the greatest short-term healthcare advances due to nanotechnology will be in therapies and diagnostics for cancer and central nervous system disorders, The organization also predicted that many other major diseases, as well as injuries, will eventually be treated and detected with nanotechnology products.
     I will be writing more about how advances in nanotechnology will affect electronics and computing, medicine, cosmetics, foods, the military, energy. By 2020, $1 trillion worth of products could be nano-engineered in some way. They may be invaluable but who knows? There is no way, as yet, to find out what happens to these tiny particles in our bodies.