Biologists produce potential malarial vaccine from algae
Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have succeeded in engineering algae to produce potential candidates for a vaccine that would prevent transmission of the parasite that causes malaria, an achievement that could pave the way for the development of an inexpensive way to protect billions of people from one of the world's most prevalent and debilitating diseases. Initial proof-of-principle experiments suggest that such a vaccine could prevent malaria transmission. Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by infection with protozoan parasites from the genus Plasmodium. It affects more than 225 million people worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions, resulting in fever, headaches and in severe cases coma and death. While a variety of often costly antimalarial medications are available to travelers in those regions to protect against infections, a vaccine offering a high level of protection from the disease does not yet exist. The use of algae to produce malaria proteins that elicited antibodies against Plasmodium falciparum in laboratory mice and prevented malaria transmission has been published in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE. The development resulted from an unusual interdisciplinary collaboration between two groups of biologists at UC San Diego—one from the Division of Biological Sciences and San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology, which had been engineering algae to produce bio-products and biofuels, and another from the Center for Tropical Medicine and Emerging Infectious Diseases in the School of Medicine that is working to develop ways to diagnose, prevent and treat malaria. Part of the difficulty in creating a vaccine against malaria is that it requires a system that can produce complex, three-dimensional proteins that resemble those made by the parasite, thus eliciting antibodies that disrupt malaria transmission. Most vaccines created by engineered bacteria are relatively simple proteins that stimulate the body's immune system to produce antibodies against bacterial invaders. More complex proteins can be produced, but this requires an expensive process using mammalian cell cultures, and the proteins those cells produce are coated with sugars due to a chemical process called glycosylation. "Malaria is caused by a parasite that makes complex proteins, but for whatever reason this parasite doesn't put sugars on those proteins," said Stephen Mayfield, a professor of biology at UC San Diego who headed the research effort. "If you have a protein covered with sugars and you inject it into somebody as a vaccine, the tendency is to make antibodies against the sugars, not the amino acid backbone of the protein from the invading organism you want to inhibit. Researchers have made vaccines without these sugars in bacteria and then tried to refold them into the correct three-dimensional configuration, but that's an expensive proposition and it doesn't work very well." Instead, the biologists looked to produce their proteins with the help of an edible green alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, used widely in research laboratories as a genetic model organism, much like the fruit fly Drosophila and the bacterium E. coli. Two years ago, a UC San Diego team of biologists headed by Mayfield, who is also the director of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology, a research consortium seeking to develop transportation fuels from algae, published a landmark study demonstrating that many complex human therapeutic proteins, such as monoclonal antibodies and growth hormones, could be produced by Chlamydomonas. That got James Gregory, a postdoctoral researcher in Mayfield's laboratory, wondering if a complex protein to protect against the malarial parasite could also be produced by Chlamydomonas. Two billion people live in regions where malaria is present, making the delivery of a malarial vaccine a costly and logistically difficult proposition, especially when that vaccine is expensive to produce. So the UC San Diego biologists set out to determine if this alga, an organism that can produce complex proteins very cheaply, could produce malaria proteins that would inhibit infections from malaria. "It's too costly to vaccinate two billion people using current technologies," explained Mayfield. "Realistically, the only way a malaria vaccine will ever be used is if it can be produced at a fraction of the cost of current vaccines. Algae have this potential because you can grow algae any place on the planet in ponds or even in bathtubs." Collaborating with Joseph Vinetz, a professor of medicine at UC San Diego and a leading expert in tropical diseases who has been working on developing vaccines against malaria, the researchers showed that the proteins produced by the algae, when injected into laboratory mice, made antibodies that blocked malaria transmission from mosquitoes."It's hard to say if these proteins are perfect, but the antibodies to our algae-produced protein recognize the native proteins in malaria and, inside the mosquito, block the development of the malaria parasite so that the mosquito can't transmit the disease," said Gregory.
"This paper tells us two things: The proteins that we made here are viable vaccine candidates and that we at least have the opportunity to produce enough of this vaccine that we can think about inoculating two billion people," said Mayfield. "In no other system could you even begin to think about that." The scientists, who filed a patent application on their discovery, said the next steps are to see if these algae proteins work to protect humans from malaria and then to determine if they can modify the proteins to elicit the same antibody response when the algae are eaten rather than injected.
University of California- www.ucsd.edu
Why Omega-3 Oils Help at the Cellular Level
Findings suggest possibility of boosting their health benefit
For the first time, researchers at the University of California, San Diego have peered inside a living mouse cell and mapped the processes that power the celebrated health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. More profoundly, they say their findings suggest it may be possible to manipulate these processes to short-circuit inflammation before it begins, or at least help to resolve inflammation before it becomes detrimental.
The work was published in the May 14, 2012 online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The therapeutic benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in certain fish oils, have long been known, dating back to at least the 1950s, when cod liver oil was found to be effective in treating ailments like eczema and arthritis. In the 1980s, scientists reported that Eskimos eating a fish-rich diet enjoyed better coronary health than counterparts consuming mainland foods.
“There have been tons of epidemiological studies linking health benefits to omega-3 oils, but not a lot of deep science,” said Edward A. Dennis, PhD, distinguished professor of pharmacology, chemistry and biochemistry. “This is the first comprehensive study of what fish oils actually do inside a cell.”
The scientists fed mouse macrophages – a kind of white blood cell – three different kinds of fatty acid: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA). EPA and DHA are major polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, essential to a broad range of cellular and bodily functions, and the primary ingredient in commercial fish oil dietary supplements. AA is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid prevalent in the human diet.
In high levels, fatty acids are toxic, so cells typically sequester them as phospholipids in their membranes. When stimulated, however, the fatty acids may be released, provoking a cascading inflammatory response. Acute or limited inflammation is, of course, a vital immunological response to physical damage or invasive pathogens. But chronic inflammation is harmful and a common element of almost every disease, from diabetes to cancer.
After supplementing the mouse macrophages with fatty acids, the scientists stimulated them to produce an inflammatory response. They discovered that omega-3 fatty acids inhibit an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX), which produces the prostaglandin hormones that spark inflammation. The action is similar to what happens when one takes an aspirin, which disrupts the COX-2 signaling pathway, thus reducing inflammation and pain.
On the other hand, Dennis and co-author Paul C. Norris, a graduate student in the chemistry and biochemistry department and the molecular pharmacology training program, discovered that omega-3 oils do not inhibit another group of enzymes called lipoxygenases (LOX), which are also produced by stimulated macrophages. One type of generated LOX enzyme in turn produces fat-signaling molecules called leukotrienes, which are pro-inflammatory. But Norris noted that LOX enzymes may also generate anti-inflammatory compounds called resolvins from EPA and DHA.
These observations, he said, are also helpful in identifying potential adverse effects from taking fish oil. Since omega-3 fatty acids possess overlapping functions with COX inhibitor drugs, with well-known side effects, using both in combination can produce unexpected consequences.
It is this parsing of what’s happening inside cells that Dennis called “ground-breaking.”
“We’ve been able to look inside a cell, see what fish oils do and determine that the process of inflammation at this level may be manipulatable,” he said. “Now, we need to learn if we can fine-tune that process so we can use omega-3 oils to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins and boost the production of anti-inflammatory resolvins.”
University of California- www.ucsd.edu
EU plans to let traces of unapproved GMOs in food
Draft EU law expected in the near future, official says
Tiny amounts of unapproved genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will be permitted in food imports to the European Union under draft rules due to be proposed shortly by the bloc's executive, EU officials said last June.
Exporters and European producers say the rules are needed to avoid disruptions to food imports, with global supply chains making it increasingly difficult to guarantee cargoes bound for Europe are free of GMOs not yet approved in the bloc.
"The European Commission has said it wants to tackle this issue before the end of this year, and we will table a proposal in the very near future," Commission spokesman for health and consumers Frederic Vincent said.
The draft rules are likely to be proposed before the European summer break to allow enough time for EU governments and lawmakers to approve them by the end of the year, said another official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Last year, the bloc approved a similar law allowing up to 0.1 percent of unapproved GMO material in animal feed imports, after several shipments from the United States were blocked at EU ports after unapproved GM material was found in some cargoes.
The problem arises because of the slow pace of GMO approvals in Europe, which create delays of up to two years between new varieties being cleared for cultivation in North and South America and getting import approval from the European Union.
As with the existing rules for feed, the proposals are expected to set a tolerance threshold of 0.1 percent, and the GMOs in question must be approved in the exporting country with an EU authorisation request already lodged with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
All EU import approvals are granted for both food and feed uses, reflecting the integrated nature of global commodity supply chains. As a result, EU officials said it was impractical to have a GMO contamination threshold for imports of feed but not for food.
But with strong public opposition to GMOs across much of Europe, any plan to allow even tiny amounts of genetically modified material in food could prove controversial. Environmentalists say the impact of consuming GMOs is unknown.
It is unclear whether the idea has the majority backing of EU governments that it needs to become law.
German farm minister Ilse Aigner has said she would oppose any EU proposal to end the bloc's zero-tolerance stance on unapproved GMOs in human food.
DSM presents dietary vitamin intakes using ‘traffic lights’ which suggest widespread inadequacies in the Western World
A new assessment published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that three quarters of the population in Germany, the UK, and the USA, does not meet the dietary intake recommendations of the respective countries for a number of essential micronutrients. Based on large-scale population-based national dietary intake surveys, scientists at DSM evaluated data using a traffic light system to measure actual intakes against national recommendations in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA.
A red light was assigned where more than 75% of the population has an intake status lower than the nationally recommended level. The results show that in Germany, the UK and the USA, Vitamin D has a red light status, indicating that at least three quarters of the population have a poor vitamin D intake, and are not meeting recommended intakes.
Vitamin D is vital to bone health and muscle strength, and it can reduce the risk of falls and fractures linked to Osteoporosis by 20%. It is also essential for children in the prevention of rickets.
Vitamin E was also branded with a red light in the UK and the USA, indicating that more can be done in these countries to raise intake levels to those recommended by national public health experts.
Vitamin B9 (folate), which is especially important for pregnant women, was given a red light in Germany; Vitamin A also received a red light in the USA.
Of the countries monitored, the Netherlands fared best, with fewer red lights than Germany, the UK and the USA. The variation between countries is most likely due to differences in recommendations, levels of fortification, and local dietary habits.
2012 is the 100 year anniversary of vitamins, and although diets have improved overall during this time, this research highlights that population-wide vitamin intake inadequacies still exist even in the Western World where plenty of food is available.
In recent decades, changing diets and lifestyles, and a shift towards fast or convenience foods with a lower density of vitamins and minerals, may be one of the factors involved. It is possible that many people who do not receive the recommended intakes are not aware of their deficiencies.
Commenting on this traffic light display, Dr. Manfred Eggersdorfer, DSM Senior Vice-President for Nutrition and Science Advocacy, commented: “Vitamins play a vital role in the diet, delivering long term benefits to health, and yet this research highlights that 100 yrs after their discovery there are still major gaps that urgently need closing – to improve people’s long term health and to drive down healthcare costs.”
PARTICLE COUNTERS FOR PROTEIN SOLUTIONS
PAMAS has developed a laboratory particle analysing system to measure small volumes of higher viscosity samples (e.g. protein solutions). For the cleanliness control of viscous liquids, PAMAS offers the PAMAS SBSS particle analysing system. This user-friendly laboratory instrument offers full flexibility as virtually all measuring parameters can be pre-set and adapted to the specific application by the user. The main benefit of the PAMAS SBSS laboratory instrument is, as the company refers, is the integrated pressure container. This sample vessel is used to create either a high pressure or vacuum atmosphere that is safely enclosed within the locked container.
INDENA HAS BEEN GRANTED THE ISO14001 CERTIFICATION
ISO14001 is a certification of compliance to standards for environmental management systems that applies to business aimed at reducing the environmental footprint by decreasing pollution and waste. Indena has been granted the ISO14001 certification for its French production site of Tours (France). The certification guarantees that the plant has an adequate management system to control the environmental impact and to continually improve the environmental performance of its activities in a systematic, effective and sustainable way.
NEW LABORATORY-BASED TRAINING FACILITY BY FERA & WATERS CORPORATION
The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) based in York, United Kingdom, and Waters Corporation based in the U.S. have announced that they will open a new laboratory-based training facility, combining their respective regulatory, scientific and industry expertise to help solve the global food safety challenge. The Fera International Food Safety Training Laboratory (Fera IFSTL) will help by teaching the best available techniques for testing for food contamination and educating them on the different food safety regulatory standards around the world. This will help testing organisations to better detect contaminated food at farms, ports and manufacturing plants and increase compliance with food regulations, ensuring food is safe before it reaches the table.
LARCH ARABINOGALACTAN ALLOWED IN DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS
Lonza is pleased to announce that larch arabinogalactan is now allowed for use in dietary supplements according to an updated monograph from the Australian Government’s Department of Health and Ageing, and Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Lonza offers larch arabinogalactan, which is positioned for immune health under the brand name ResistAid™.
PREMIUM INGRESIENTS PRESENTS PREMIGUM® XPJ-12008 AND PREMIGUM® XPJ-12017
One of the hottest topics nowadays within the food industry is the situation of guar gum. Sky rocketing prices and limited availability resulted in an urgent requirement for guar substitution for many food manufacturers. PREMIUM INGREDIENTS has launched two new products, Premigum® XPJ-12008 and Premigum® XPJ-12017. Both were tested in a standard model system for apple juice and provide similar viscosity levels at slightly lower dosages compared to guar gum. Sedimentation was measured using a Lumisizer and resulted in better stability for Premigum® XPJ-12008 and Premigum® XPJ-12017 compared to guar gum. Another application area of great interest for the substitution of guar gum is mayonnaise. The challenge for this application is having stabilizer solutions that work in cold as well as in hot processing and are suitable for egg and non-egg formulas. The oil content and the required texture are also very important criteria for the selection of the right stabilizer system. The company explains that the newly launched products Premigum® XCS-12030 and Premigum® XCS-12035 complement the current range of non-guar based stabilizer systems for mayonnaise.
ISO 22000:2005 CERTIFICATION FOR EXXONMOBIL
The ISO 22000 certification is one of the industry’s most recognised, stringent and comprehensive food and beverage safety standards. ExxonMobil Lubricants & Petroleum Specialties Company has announced it is the first lubricant provider to have achieved ISO 22000:2005 certification for the manufacture of its NSF H1-registered, Mobil SHC™ Cibus family of high performance synthetic lubricants. This accreditation, alongside the energy efficiency benefits of the Mobil SHC Cibus range, can help companies optimise the safety and performance of their operations.