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Bioprospecting

Postby NHE » Tue Jan 16, 2007 3:26 am

This article from the Seattle Times is not specific to MS but it will likely be of interest to anyone who's interested in the "Natural Approach".

NHE

Bioprospecting: Who has rights to nature's cures?
By Rick Vecchio, The Associated Press

JUNIN, Peru — In a small storefront on a bleak, wind-swept Andean plateau, Timotea Cordova offers an oxygen-deprived visitor a traditional elixir to ward off the breathless effect of the high altitude.

Dropping a few shriveled tuber roots into a blender, the 80-year-old Quechua Indian shopkeeper promises with a playful glance that the concoction also will provide a leg up later in the bedroom.

For hundreds of years, Quechua Indians have grown maca, the frost-resistant root that thrives in these frigid Andean highlands, to boost stamina and sex drive. The root, they believe, is nature's bounty and belongs to everyone and to no one in particular.

Maca growers and indigenous organizations were outraged when, in 2001, a New Jersey-based company, PureWorld Botanicals, received a U.S. patent for exclusive commercial distribution of an extract of maca's active libido-enhancing compounds that it branded as MacaPure.

Peruvian officials called the patent an "emblematic case" of biopiracy and are set to challenge it in U.S. courts.

The maca dispute is just the latest collision between indigenous people and commercial interests over so-called bioprospecting, the growing practice of scouring the globe for exotic plants, microbes and other living things for commercial exploitation.

Bioprospecting has huge potential for good, say researchers who go to sea, climb mountains and trek to obscure corners of the world in search of exotic and undiscovered life.

A 2005 U.N. University report concluded that 62 percent of all cancer drugs were created from bioprospecting discoveries.

The venom of a deadly sea snail found off the coast of the Philippines led Elan Pharmaceuticals to develop the painkiller Prialt, which U.S. regulators approved in 2004. The key ingredient in the breast-cancer drug Taxol owned by Bristol-Myers Squibb is taken from the bark of the yew tree, and Wyeth's kidney-transplant drug Rapamune comes from Easter Island soil.

But bioprospecting is mostly unregulated, and there are mounting calls to establish legal frameworks for such work.

The Convention on Biological Diversity produced at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro entitled nations to a share of the profits from substances yielded by their flora and fauna. It was ratified by 188 countries — but not the United States, which argues that such a requirement stifles innovation and would undermine the patent system.

That hasn't stopped some of the world's poorest countries, which also hold the richest pockets of natural biodiversity, from fighting to apply the convention to international patent law.

India has had the most success, most recently persuading the European Patent Board of Appeals to invalidate a 1994 patent granted to U.S.-based W.R. Grace & Co. for an insecticide derived from neem seeds.

Peru and Brazil, both at the forefront of the biopiracy debate, have been less persuasive.

Brazil, which has some of the world's strictest regulations to prevent the removal of genetic materials from the Amazon, has been hard-pressed to demonstrate a single case of biopiracy before the World Trade Organization.

Attempts by Peruvian indigenous groups, meanwhile, ultimately failed to overturn U.S. patents based on ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic plant used for centuries in religious and healing ceremonies, and nuna, a nutritious Andean bean that pops when toasted.

Peru hopes the MacaPure dispute will become a pivotal case in attempts to require all patent applications to disclose the source of genetic materials.

Alejandro Argumedo, a Quechua Indian agronomist and activist, says the French company that bought PureWorld in 2005, Naturex, has no right to "privatize knowledge that belongs to an entire region."

Naturex's marketing manager, Antoine Dauby, says the company acknowledges that maca's beneficial properties were long ago discovered by indigenous Peruvians. He says its patent lets them "grow, sell and use maca as they have for centuries."

"Our patent is for the extraction and isolation of maca's key ingredient — and nothing else," said Dauby. As a good-faith gesture, he said, Naturex is offering to grant free licenses to Peruvian companies to use MacaPure in their products.

Qun Yi Zheng, PureWorld's former president and chief scientist, said the company invested more than $1 million and three years of research in the endeavor and that it popularized maca as a worldwide Peruvian export.

A wide range of maca-based products — from powders and pills to jams and candies — has helped triple Peru's exports of the plant from $1.3 million in 2000 to more than $3 million annually since 2003, according to the Exporters Association of Peru.

Zheng's peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Urology in April 2000, showed that MacaPure greatly improved penile dysfunction in castrated rats. Also, lab mice fed the stuff for 22 days engaged in sexual intercourse up to 67 times in a three-hour period, compared with 16 times by less randy rodents deprived of the extract.

Peru contends PureWorld's alcohol-based extraction process simply mimics the centuries-old practice by Andean people of soaking dried maca root in Andean moonshine to release the libido boosters.

But providing scientific proof to show PureWorld's formula falls short of a "novel" and "useful" invention has proven elusive.

"We don't have the technology for this analysis and we have had to turn to a scientist in the United States who offered to do the analysis for free," said Manuel Ruiz, a director at the nonprofit Peruvian Society for Environmental Law and a member of Peru's National Anti-Biopiracy Commission.

Peru has also enlisted the pro bono help of Washington attorney Jorge Goldstein to prepare a legal challenge. He is examining, among other things, archives from rural Peruvian universities to demonstrate that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office failed to consider "prior art" — pre-existing knowledge that could be used to overturn the patent.

Chris Kilham, who conducted the initial field research for MacaPure in the Peruvian highlands, says he can see the issue from both sides.

"PureWorld, which did all of this work, found compounds that nobody knew existed before," said Kilham, a professor of ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


"On the other hand, the native people from whom the knowledge of especially the sexual applications of maca arise were not at all considered in these patents."

The specter of biopiracy in Peru dates back to the 1630s, when Jesuit priests took bark from the Peruvian cinchona tree — the original source of quinine — back to Europe, where it was hailed as a cure for malaria.

Peru never got wealthy from the discovery.

Cinchona seeds were smuggled by the Dutch from Peru in the 19th century and planted in Java. Indonesia became the world's primary source of quinine.

The image of the cinchona tree was put on the Peruvian flag — a constant reminder of Peru's unrewarded contribution to one of the most important breakthroughs in medical history.
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empire of the mind

Postby jimmylegs » Tue Jan 16, 2007 6:46 am

this is indeed a global problem and it's coming down to a discussion of native title rights (or similar depending what country you're in) having to include indigenous knowledge as well as territory.

similar to indigenous peoples having to 'prove' ownership of territory under an imposed foreign system of colonization, now the indigenous caretakers are going to have to 'prove' ownership of knowledge under a foreign world view in order to prevent less ethical and respectful parties from said foreign world view, taking indigenous people's hereditary common right to a resource away.

a modern wave of colonization, how nice.
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Green Tea (ECGC) and Neuroprotection

Postby Shayk » Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:17 pm

There have been several discussions about green tea. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties it apparently also exhibits some neuroprotective properties and if this has been posted before my apologies. I know several of you know a lot about it.

Green tea epigallocatechin-3-gallate mediates T cellular NF-kappa B inhibition and exerts neuroprotection in autoimmune encephalomyelitis (for the scientifically minded the entire article is available via Pub Med)
EGCG was capable of protecting against neuronal injury in living brain tissue induced by N-methyl-D-aspartate or TRAIL and of directly blocking the formation of neurotoxic reactive oxygen species in neurons. Thus, a natural green tea constituent may open up a new therapeutic avenue for young disabled adults with inflammatory brain disease by combining, on one hand, anti-inflammatory and, on the other hand, neuroprotective capacities.

Here's a more recent general abstract from some of the same authors.

Neurodegeneration in autoimmune demyelination: Recent mechanistic insights reveal novel therapeutic targets

I asked someone if green tea (ECGC) was mentioned in this more recent article as something that could potentially target neurodegeneration in people with MS and they assured me it was.

Sharon
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Postby Frank » Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:51 am

Hi,

I found one small study using kawalle for MS here:
<shortened url>

--Frank


Immunological Phenotype and Treatment with Polypodium leucotomos (Kalawalla) in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Patients

Spanish Society of Neurology, XLVI Annual Symposium

MM Carreño, P Castro, Dept. of Neurology, Navarra University, Pamplona, Spain

Introduction and Obejectives
Several studies have shown the existence of abnormal immunological phenotypes in MS, and more specifically a imbalance in the suppressor function.

Objectives: To determine quantitavive abnormalities in the lymphocyte subpopulation of MS patients, to establish the relationship with the different clinical pictures and to study the response to the treatment with an extract of Polypodium leucotomos.

Patients and Methods: 12 patients, 10 women and 2 men, with well established MS; mean age of 43.7 years; evolution time 6.5 years; treated for one yeat only with an extract of Polypodium leucotomos (360 – 720 mg / day). The immunological phenotype was studied counting the lymphocyte sub population.

Statistical analysis were carried out by non parametric techniques.

Results: More frequent basal immunological alterations were increased CD4 in d LB (62.5%), decreased CD8 suppressors (50%). There was no correlation between the increase in ICD4 in LB – progressive form and decrease ICD8 – relapsing / remitting form. The treatment brought the lymphocyte count to normal in 100% of the patients with increased CD4 in B. the clinical evolution, according to the EDSS scale was: Normal development of course of disease 3 patients (37.5%), stabilization and improvement 5 patients (62.5%) Increased in ICD8 suppressor figures were normalized in 3 patients (50%); worsening was recorder in only 1 patient.

Conclusions
The most frequent immunological alterations of the phenotype in MS are increase L ind B and decreased L supp. They are not related to classical forms. The treatment of Multiple Sclerosis with an extract of Polypodium leucotomos is useful to correct these phenotype imbalance and can contribute to a clinical stabilization.
Treatment: Gilenya since 01/2011, CCSVI both IJV ballooned 09/2010, Tysabri stopped after 24 Infusions and positive JCV antibody test, after LDN, ABX Wheldon Regime for 1 year.
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Postby Lars » Mon May 07, 2007 11:24 am

I actually tried the Kalawalla route for 3-4 months. I can't say I noticed any benefit. I also couldn't find much info about it initially and only my Naturopath had even heard of it. It is apparently effective for certain skin disorders.
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MJ

Postby robbie » Thu May 24, 2007 1:51 pm

March 1, 2007
Marijuana as wonder drug
The Boston Globe

by Lester Grinspoon

A NEW STUDY in the journal Neurology is being hailed as unassailable proof that marijuana is a valuable medicine. It is a sad commentary on the state of modern medicine - and US drug policy - that we still need "proof" of something that medicine has known for 5,000 years.

The study, from the University of California at San Francisco, found smoked marijuana to be effective at relieving the extreme pain of a debilitating condition known as peripheral neuropathy. It was a study of HIV patients, but a similar type of pain caused by damage to nerves afflicts people with many other illnesses including diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Neuropathic pain is notoriously resistant to treatment with conventional pain drugs. Even powerful and addictive narcotics like morphine and OxyContin often provide little relief. This study leaves no doubt that marijuana can safely ease this type of pain.

As all marijuana research in the United States must be, the new study was conducted with government-supplied marijuana of notoriously poor quality. So it probably underestimated the potential benefit.

This is all good news, but it should not be news at all. In the 40-odd years I have been studying the medicinal uses of marijuana, I have learned that the recorded history of this medicine goes back to ancient times and that in the 19th century it became a well- established Western medicine whose versatility and safety were unquestioned. From 1840 to 1900, American and European medical journals published over 100 papers on the therapeutic uses of marijuana, also known as cannabis.

Of course, our knowledge has advanced greatly over the years. Scientists have identified over 60 unique constituents in marijuana, called cannabinoids, and we have learned much about how they work. We have also learned that our own bodies produce similar chemicals, called endocannabinoids.

The mountain of accumulated anecdotal evidence that pointed the way to the present and other clinical studies also strongly suggests there are a number of other devastating disorders and symptoms for which marijuana has been used for centuries; they deserve the same kind of careful, methodologically sound research. While few such studies have so far been completed, all have lent weight to what medicine already knew but had largely forgotten or ignored: Marijuana is effective at relieving nausea and vomiting, spasticity, appetite loss, certain types of pain, and other debilitating symptoms. And it is extraordinarily safe - safer than most medicines prescribed every day. If marijuana were a new discovery rather than a well-known substance carrying cultural and political baggage, it would be hailed as a wonder drug.

The pharmaceutical industry is scrambling to isolate cannabinoids and synthesize analogs, and to package them in non-smokable forms. In time, companies will almost certainly come up with products and delivery systems that are more useful and less expensive than herbal marijuana. However, the analogs they have produced so far are more expensive than herbal marijuana, and none has shown any improvement over the plant nature gave us to take orally or to smoke.

We live in an antismoking environment. But as a method of delivering certain medicinal compounds, smoking marijuana has some real advantages: The effect is almost instantaneous, allowing the patient, who after all is the best judge, to fine-tune his or her dose to get the needed relief without intoxication. Smoked marijuana has never been demonstrated to have serious pulmonary consequences, but in any case the technology to inhale these cannabinoids without smoking marijuana already exists as vaporizers that allow for smoke- free inhalation.

Hopefully the UCSF study will add to the pressure on the US government to rethink its irrational ban on the medicinal use of marijuana - and its destructive attacks on patients and caregivers in states that have chosen to allow such use. Rather than admit they have been mistaken all these years, federal officials can cite "important new data" and start revamping outdated and destructive policies. The new Congress could go far in establishing its bona fides as both reasonable and compassionate by immediately moving on this issue.

Such legislation would bring much-needed relief to millions of Americans suffering from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and other debilitating illnesses.

Lester Grinspoon; an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; is the coauthor of "Marijuana; the Forbidden Medicine."



© 2007 New York Times Company.
Had ms for over 19 years now.
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Postby Lyon » Thu May 24, 2007 2:23 pm

Good article robbie!

I personally have done years and years of selfless medical research with this substance and can attest that the worst danger it poses is blowing snot on yourself and your friends during the giggles.

I know you won't like this one robbie but outlawing alcohol and decriminalizing MJ would save the lives of countless people who now die in alcohol related accidents.

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Postby robbie » Thu May 24, 2007 3:54 pm

outlawing alcohol and decriminalizing MJ

Thats a tough one Bob thats like giving up steak for lobster. lol
Had ms for over 19 years now.
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Postby Lyon » Thu May 24, 2007 4:15 pm

I know. Alcohol seems to make MJ more fun.....I mean theraputic.

Seriously, although we're having fun with the situation I can't see a single problem with AT THE VERY LEAST prescribing MJ for people who have a medical need. Next to alcohol it probably has the widest and longest user base in history.

Heck, even though he didn't inhale (yeah, right!) one of the US Presidents was among the testers.

I thought us "baby boomers" were now the "establishment"? I guess I'm having a hard time understanding who exactly these people are who won't legalize it.

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Postby Muu » Fri May 25, 2007 1:12 pm

Hi guys - no fits of the giggles now.
I listened to a radio programme last week about ms. One of the things that came up was the therapeutic effects of cannaboids. A short term study had been undertaken (15weeks I think) and the results reported were positive for relief for a range of symptoms inc muscle stiffness and even bladder problems. One of the women interviewed was a mature lady who had never touched Mj before in her life and was v positive about the benefits. A longer study is being undertaken in Plymouth here in the UK to investigate whether cannaboids have neuroprotective qualities.
My neuro is def in the wait and see camp on this one. Should nontheless be interesting.
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Postby Lyon » Fri May 25, 2007 1:32 pm

Hi Muu,
I should move to the UK and become a pharmacist. Every prescription would come with a free "Dark Side of the Moon" CD!
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Postby robbie » Fri May 25, 2007 3:23 pm

a range of symptoms inc muscle stiffness and even bladder problems.

Hi Muu all of the above for me and then some. Hope to see a pic soon rob..
Had ms for over 19 years now.
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Postby Loobie » Sat May 26, 2007 3:27 pm

I can attest to the fact that it helps relax the bladder. Over many times of trying to quit (god knows why), I know that it helps my bladder. The only bad effect it is having on me lately is that it saps my energy more than it used to. It used to charge me up and I could smoke it all day on the weekends. Now I have to wait until the evening, but it still calms my whole system down and makes me feel like I'm not 'vibrating'.

I truthfully don't care if they legalize it. I think the whole war on drugs is idiotic and 'winless' anyway. If I find something that gives me better quality of life, I am going to find a way to get it. I didn't ask for MS, but for some reason, I can't use what I want for symptom relief? I don't think so, not this kid.
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Postby robbie » Sat May 26, 2007 3:44 pm

I have to wait until the evening, but it still calms my whole system down and makes me feel like I'm not 'vibrating'.

I truthfully don't care if they legalize it. I think the whole war on drugs is idiotic and 'winless' anyway. If I find something that gives me better quality of life, I am going to find a way to get it.


Same here Loobie
Had ms for over 19 years now.
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Postby CureOrBust » Sat May 26, 2007 4:02 pm

Loobie wrote:I truthfully don't care if they legalize it. I think the whole war on drugs is idiotic and 'winless' anyway.
You will care if you are caught with it and charged with posession. Thats where legalisation will help.

Also, it means others dont have to find dodgy suppliers. You obviously are ok for supply.

You said that it affects you differently now as compared to before. From my visits to the netherlands, talking to friends there, they say there are different types with different effects. If it was legalised, the quality / type could be controlled. The new lethargy you experience is possibly a side effect that could be taken out of a legalise medecin.
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