What's the buzz.

What's the buzz.

New therapies for asthma, COPD

Scientists from a University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have demonstrated that a single ‘master switch’ enzyme, known as aldose reductase, is key in producing excess mucous that clogs the airways of people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The enzyme’s action can be blocked by drugs whose safety has been shown in clinical trials for other diseases. The discovery could improve therapies for the 510 million people worldwide suffering from asthma and COPD.

Using cell culture and laboratory mouse experiments, the researchers showed that the enzyme, aldose reductase, is essential to a process known as goblet cell metaplasia that is seen in both asthma and COPD. In goblet cell metaplasia, exposure to allergens such as pollen, mold and dust mites initiates a series of biochemical reactions that causes the cells that line the air passages of the lungs to change from their normal state into so-called ‘goblet cells’, which produce substantial amounts of excess mucus.

“The discovery that aldose reductase regulates mucus production and goblet cell metaplasia makes inhibition of this enzyme an attractive therapeutic option to reduce mucus-related airway obstructive diseases — and for the first time gives us a real chance to alter the course of the underlying disease in asthma and COPD,” said biochemistry and molecular biology professor Satish Srivastava.

Energy shots are caffeinated, sour tasting water

Experts have said that the latest ‘energy-shots’ that seem to have caught everyone’s fancy may be nothing but slightly caffeinated, sour-tasting water.

They said that the four-dollar a bottle drinks create nothing but a placebo effect. The drink makers are not required to list how much caffeine they contain, nor does the law require them to be FDA approved.

“They don’t have to prove safety or efficacy, so you have no idea if what it says on the labels is true. You have no idea what you’re actually drinking or how much caffeine you’re ingesting. It’s a crap shoot,” New York University nutritionist Marion Nestle.

A Stacker2 6-Hour Power spokeswoman responded, “Listing the caffeine is not necessary. The energy you receive is not just from caffeine, it comes from the proprietary blend as a whole.”

Some consumers said that they haven’t felt any difference whatsoever from the drinks.
“It doesn’t do anything for me. A cup of coffee works better,” said Mirian Aguilar, 24, a saleswoman who admitted trying 5-hour Energy when she’s dragging.

The drink labels purport to provide 2,000 per cent of the daily dose of vitamin B6 and up to 8,666 per cent of vitamin B12 — claims that nutritionists dismissed as bogus at best and harmful at worst.

Too much B6 can lead to nerve damage in the arms and legs, said nutritionist Marissa Lippert.

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