Arthritis Study Halted After Patient Death – Issue 18

Dear Health-Conscious Friend,

Scientific studies have certainly brought countless health benefits to mankind. But sometimes the results are not what researchers expect… especially if the unthinkable happens!

Today I’ll tell you about the government’s response to an arthritis study that took a turn for the worse.

You’ll also discover a secret about some popular bottled water brands lining grocery store shelves. I’ll also tell you which spice can help erase the words “I don’t remember” from your vocabulary.

And if you know someone suffering from dementia related to Parkinson’s disease—you’ll find out which Alzheimer’s treatment drug the FDA says could be helpful.

You’ll find all this and MORE in today’s Monday Edition of Health News Weekly!

Arthritis Gene Therapy Study Halted

Layne Lowery

The Food and Drug Administration recently suspended an advanced arthritis gene therapy study after learning a patient died. FDA officials want to determine if the viruses used to deliver new genes may have played a role in the death.

The Seattle-based company, Targeted Genetics Corporation, enrolled more than 100 people in a study using the adeno-associated virus—or AAV. The therapy uses AAV to deliver a gene used to block a substance that causes joint inflammation. Although several drugs exist to block this substance—called tumor necrosis factor (TNF)—gene therapy is a novel approach.

The FDA is aware of 28 other gene therapy studies that have used, or are using, the same AAV virus. According to an Associated Press report, the agency is not aware of serious side effects in any of those studies. As a precaution, officials are reviewing all studies still actively treating patients.

The AP report mentions a 1999 death associated with a similar gene therapy experiment. An 18-year-old patient died in his fourth day of a gene therapy experiment at the University of Pennsylvania. The patient suffered with a disorder that prevented his body from properly processing nitrogen.

That study used a virus similar to AAV to deliver the needed gene. Rather than curing this condition—the FDA concluded that the gene therapy injection killed the patient!

The AP report said the National Institutes of Health’s Advisory Committee on gene therapy will meet in September to discuss the scientific implications of this latest death.

Look Who’s Selling Ordinary Tap Water
—with a Fancy Label!

Roz Roscoe, Staff Writer

If you ever wonder about the purity of the bottled water you’re drinking—it turns out you have reason to be concerned. According to the U.S. watchdog group, Corporate Accountability International, PepsiCo Inc. will soon add the words “public water source” on its Aquafina® bottled water labels. This measure acknowledges the brand is made with ordinary tap water!

Co’s Dasani® are made from Both Pepsi’s Aquafina and Coca-Cola purified water from public reservoirs. Other brands, such as Nestle’s Poland Spring® and the Danone Group’s Evian® are labeled as “spring waters”.

According to a Reuters report, Coca-Cola Co. will start posting online quality control testing information about their Dasani brand by the end of summer or early fall 2007.

Environmental and political opposition to the bottled water industry has spread in recent years. Some critics say the bottled water industry adds extra plastic to landfills… uses excess energy for production and shipping the product… and undermines public confidence in the safety of public water supplies.

Unfortunately, industry analysts say this opposition probably won’t drain U.S. sales of bottled water. According to a Reuter’s news report, the industry newsletter Beverage Digest estimated that U.S. consumers spent about $15 billion on bottled water last year!

For many folks, it’s more convenient to grab a bottle of water for workouts… working… or during time spent outdoors. But depending on the quality of water in your area—you might do well to buy a thermos and fill it straight from the tap—for no additional cost!

Fast Fact

Does your cat suffer with pesky ear mites? Now you can eliminate them—with just a few drops of corn oil in your cat’s ear… Massage it in, then clean the ear with a cotton ball. Repeat daily for 3 days. The oil soothes the cat’s skin, smothers the mites, and speeds healing!

Add This Spice to Your Diet to
Banish Senior Moments!

Haley Whiten, Contributing Editor

If you’re worried about age-related memory loss—new research shows a common kitchen spice may help improve your brain power. Researchers say one of the active chemicals in turmeric—the main spice in curry—may boost the immune system of Alzheimer’s patients.

This can help clear a type of brain plaque called amyloid which is commonly found in people with the disease. Researchers suspect amyloid plaque may cause abnormal gene regulation.

Dr. Milan Fiala and colleagues from the Greater Los Angeles Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center showed that immune cells from patients with Alzheimer’s disease cannot efficiently eliminate amyloid from the brain. They found that treating these cells with an active ingredient found in turmeric boosted the function of immune cells called macrophages.

Study findings, published in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, say other Alzheimer’s treatment approaches try to clear brain plaque by stimulating certain brain cells. Using turmeric boosts the activity of the macrophage immune cells made from bone marrow.

Research shows a staggering 76 percent of Americans suffer “senior moments,” memory lapses and decreased alertness—starting from the age of 30! The latest study findings show that by adding a little curry powder to some favorite dishes—you might get more brain power with every serving

Health E-Hints

The Bacteria You’ll WANT to EAT!

The mention of the word bacteria makes many folks reach for a can of disinfectant! But not all bacteria is bad—in fact, one type actually promotes healthy digestion.

Probiotics are live bacteria your large intestine needs to function properly. These “good” bacteria can help relieve constipation… improve lactose intolerance… boost your immune system… reduce colon polyps… and increase the bioavailability of vitamins and minerals.

You’ll find probiotics in yogurt—specifically products with these words on the label:

  • “Live” or “active” cultures
  • L. bulgaricus
  • S. thermophilus
  • L. acidophilus bacteria

You won’t get probiotic benefits from yogurt labeled with “heat treated after culturing”. This means the yogurt was pasteurized after adding helpful bacteria—a process which can destroy live cultures.

So the right type of yogurt can be both a delicious treat and a digestion booster!