Grape Skin Extract May Soon Be Answer to Treating Diabetes
May 8, 2014 — Preliminary studies by researchers at Wayne State University have demonstrated that grape skin extract (GSE) exerts a novel inhibitory activity on hyperglycemia and could be developed and used to aid in diabetes management. Recently funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, this $2.1 million transitional study will provide insights into the novel inhibitory action of GSE on postprandial hyperglycemia and will also provide preclinical data in support of the biological effectiveness and safety of GSE and its components in potential prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.
“It is hopeful that our research may eventually lead to the successful development of a safe, targeted nutritional intervention to support diabetes prevention and treatment,” said Kequan Zhou, Ph.D., assistant professor of food and nutrition science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and lead investigator on the grant. “Our study will provide important pre-clinical data regarding the anti-diabetic mechanisms, biological efficacy and safety of GSE that should facilitate eventual translation into future clinical studies to assess GSE and its components as a safe, low-cost and evidence-based nutritional intervention for diabetes.”
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. In addition, some groups have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, including African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and the elderly. “Type 2 diabetes is one of the major chronic diseases of modern societies," said Gloria Heppner, Ph.D., associate vice president for research at Wayne State University. "It threatens the health of a variety of populations, with growing numbers of young people being diagnosed with the disease every day.
The diabetes rate in the United States nearly doubled in the past 10 years. Approximately 26 million Americans are now classified as diabetic, stressing an urgent need for safe and effective complementary strategies to enhance the existing conventional treatment for diabetes.
"Dr. Zhou’s study offers great hope for a potential treatment that is natural and without harmful side effects for the many people inflicted with type 2 diabetes,” Heppner said.
The grant number for this National Institutes of Health research project is AT007566.
Complementary Medicine Widely Used for Children with Autism
January 11, 2014 — In a study of the range of treatments being employed for young children with autism and other developmental delays, UC Davis MIND Institute researchers found that families often use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments and that the most frequent users of both conventional and complementary approaches are those with higher levels of parental education and income.
There is no FDA-approved medical treatment for the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition whose hallmarks are deficits in social relatedness, repetitive thoughts and behaviors and, often, intellectual disability.
In the search for treatments to help their children, families may turn to unconventional approaches such as mind-body medicine (e.g. meditation or prayer), homeopathic remedies, probiotics, alternative diets or more invasive therapies such as vitamin B-12 injections, intravenous immunoglobulin or chelation therapy — some of which carry significant risks.
The research is published online today in the Journal of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics. It was led by Robin Hansen, director of the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the MIND Institute and chief of the Division of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics in the UC Davis School of Medicine.
“In our Northern California study population, it does not appear that families use complementary and alternative treatments due to the lack of availability of conventional services, as has been suggested by other research,” Hansen said. “Rather, they use the treatments in addition to conventional approaches.”
The cause or causes of most neurodevelopmental disorders are not known, and the conditions have no cure. Many children suffer from a wide array of associated symptoms that may not be directly associated with their condition and that make their daily lives and those of their families stressful. Such symptoms include irritability, hyperactivity, gastrointestinal problems and sleep disorders.
The study included nearly 600 diverse children between 2 and 5 years with autism and developmental delay who were enrolled in the Childhood Autism Risk from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study. Of the participants, 453 were diagnosed with autism and 125 were diagnosed with developmental delay.
CAM use was more common among children with autism than children diagnosed with other types of developmental delay, 40 percent versus 30 percent respectively. Nearly 7 percent of children with autism were on the gluten-free/casein-free diet, particularly children with frequent gastrointestinal problems.
“We were pleased to find that most families utilizing CAM therapies were choosing ones that were low risk," said Kathleen Angkustsiri, assistant professor of developmental and behavioral pediatrics and a study co-author.
However, a small but statistically significant number — about 9 percent — were found to use alternative treatments classified by the study as potentially unsafe, invasive or unproven, such as antifungal medications, chelation therapy and vitamin B-12 injections.
“Our study suggests that pediatricians and other providers need to ask about CAM use in the context of providing care for children with autism and other developmental disorders, and take a more active role in helping families make decisions about treatment options based on available information related to potential benefits and risks,” said Roger Scott Akins, lead author and a former postdoctoral fellow at the MIND Institute, who now is chairman of the Division of Neurodevelopmental Pediatrics at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va.
Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor of public health sciences and principal investigator for the CHARGE study, said the research supports the emergent need for identifying validated treatments for neurodevelopmental conditions.
"These findings emphasize the enormous and urgent need for effective treatments and for rigorous research that can identify them and verify their effectiveness and safety,” Hertz-Picciotto said. “Of course it is reasonable for parents to keep searching for ways to help their children, when there are few effective treatments and none that can help every child."