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Why are experts so excited about peptide drugs?
Cyclotides - the central focus of Craik’s work - have great potential to address the issues of stability of peptide drugs.
As they structurally form a circle, cyclotides do not have the weak point of loose ends that speed up degradation by our digestive enzymes. They are further stabilised by several interlocking cross-links, forming a compact, very stable structure. This helps them reach their target intact, even when taken orally.
Blaskovich’s group is working on two promising peptide-based antibiotics to deal with growing antibiotic resistance.
The first of these is to enhance the glycopeptide (peptides with sugar molecules on them) antibiotic Vancomycin, by trying to make it a super-vancomycin that more selectively targets bacterial cells. This approach starts with vancomycin as the core, with additional groups added on to interact selectively with the bacterial cell instead of a mammalian cell.
The aim is to increase its potency at killing bacteria and reduce the unwanted side effects it has on human cells.
The second research program is developing antibiotics that attack Gram negative bacteria - generally considered the more difficult to fight. These peptides are cyclic lipopeptides (peptides with a fatty acid, or lipid, attached) with eight to 10 amino acids.
You might have already taken a peptide-based drug
One of the best-known peptide-based drugs is exenatide, which is marketed under the name Byetta. It’s used to help control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients.
It works by increasing the insulin production in response to meals and is a synthetic form of the peptide found in the venom of the Gila monster - a species of venomous lizard native to the US and Mexico.
It’s a linear peptide containing 39 amino acids that was developed some 10 years ago, and is now widely used.
Defining Antiaging Nutraceuticals
The term antiaging can incorporate a broad range of nutraceutical possibilities. For the purpose of this article, let’s define antiaging nutraceuticals as those nutracentical ingredients that help to address health and wellness issues associated with aging. In this context, that would potentially include nutraceuticals that can positively impact the aging process itself as well as those that positively impact aspects of human physiology that tend to decline with age, such as joint health and cognitive health. Ahead, we touch on a few promising contenders.
The benefits of organic food
How your food is grown or raised can have a major impact on your mental and emotional health as well as the environment. Organic foods often have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally-grown counterparts and people with allergies to foods, chemicals, or preservatives may find their symptoms lessen or go away when they eat organic fruit and vegetable powder.
Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Chemicals such as synthetic fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat.
Organic food is often fresher because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer. Organic produce is sometimes (but not always, so watch where it is from) produced on smaller farms nearer to where it is sold.
Organic farming tends to be better for the environment. Organic farming practices may reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. Farming without synthetic pesticides is also better for nearby birds and animals as well as people who live close to farms.
Organically raised animals are NOT given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts. Feeding livestock animal products increases the risk of mad cow disease (BSE) and the use of antibiotics can create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Organically-raised animals tend to be given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, which help to keep them healthy.
Organic meat and milk can be richer in certain nutrients. Results of a 2016 European study show that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50 percent higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally raised versions.
Organic food is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide.
Organic food vs. locally-grown food
Unlike organic standards, there is no specific definition for “local food”. It could be grown in your local community, your state, your region, or your country. During large portions of the year it is usually possible to find food grown close to home at places such as a farmer’s market.
The benefits of locally grown food
Financial: Money stays within the local economy. More money goes directly to the farmer, instead of to things like marketing and distribution.
Transportation: In the U.S., for example, the average distance a meal travels from the farm to the dinner plate is over 1,500 miles. Produce must be picked while still unripe and then gassed to “ripen” it after transport. Or the food is highly processed in factories using preservatives, irradiation, and other means to keep it stable for transport.
Freshness: Local food is harvested when ripe and thus fresher and full of flavor.
Some small local farmers use organic methods but may not be able to afford to become certified organic. Visit a farmer’s market and talk with the farmers to find out what methods they use. At the same time, we now have many ways to get organic plant extract.