According to the US Centers for Disease Control, arthritis and related conditions affect about 43 million Americans, and there are 8 million suffering arthritis in the UK. Judy Davis reports on fresh patents aimed at taming or preventing these ailments.
An invention from US-based Metagenics may provide dietary supplements that promote healthy joints while avoiding the adverse side effects associated with traditionally prescribed remedies such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories) and COX-2 inhibitors (inhibitors of the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2). The supplements include a mix of niacinamide and niacin, with an antioxidant nutrient.
According to Metagenics, niacinamide and niacin promote joint health by inhibiting poly (ADP-ribose) synthetase (PARS), a key enzyme in the inflammatory process. Activation of PARS is part of a cascade of events leading to the tissue damage associated with inflammatory disorders such as arthritis. Inclusion of an antioxidant nutrient, such as N-acetylcysteine, alpha-lipoic acid, co-enzyme Q10, vitamin E, carotenoids or zinc, improves the efficacy of the supplement by reducing the oxidative damage associated with inflammation. (PCT Patent Application WO 01/56572)
Cherries contain a number of beneficial phytochemicals, and consumption of cherries has been associated with alleviating arthritic pain and gout. According to Michigan State University researchers, this may be due to their high content of anthocyanins capable of inhibiting cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and cycloxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzymes involved in prostaglandin production and the inflammatory process.
A patent from the university describes a method of isolating a mixture of bioflavonoids, anthocyanins and phenolics from cherries and using this mixture to inhibit inflammation and inflammatory conditions. The mixture is suitable for food formulations and also can be used as a stand-alone dietary supplement. The patent includes results of small-scale studies evaluating the activity of the mixture against that of traditional anti-inflammatories, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. (European Patent Application EP 1 137 429)
A dietary supplement aimed at promoting healthy joint function is described in a patent from Reliv International in the US. The main ingredient is enzymically hydrolysed collagen with an average molecular weight of 10-80 kilodaltons. This hydrolysed collagen is cold-water-soluble and flavourless.
According to the patent, the amino acids and peptides contained in the hydrolysed collagen are those required for synthesis and repair of cartilage, and they reportedly provide an analgesic effect. Also included is glucosamine sulfate, which helps repair and maintain joint cartilage, and has been shown to reduce articular pain, joint tenderness and swelling. Herbal components are also included—amongst them, ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) for its strong antioxidant potential; turmeric (Curcuma longa) for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties; boswellia (Boswellia serrata) and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) for their anti-inflammatory activity; and black pepper (Piper nigrum) extract for its bioavailability-enhancing activity.
The supplement is in the form of a dry blend, which can be mixed with water or other drinks and consumed as a beverage. (US Patent 6,224,871)
A Good Egg
DCV in the US has filed a patent for egg products designed to prevent and treat inflammation, particularly in arthritis. The invention is based on the discovery that consumption of eggs obtained from hyperimmunised chickens can prevent or reduce inflammation. According to the patent, the antigen mixture used for hyperimmunisation does not itself need to include an inflammatory antigen; rather, any immunogen can be used as long as it is capable of inducing immune and hyperimmune states in the egg-producing animal.
The inventors mention a mixture of polyvalent bacterial and viral antigens as the preferred immunogen. To benefit from the anti-inflammatory effects, either a whole egg can be eaten, or equally effective, partially purified anti-inflammatory fractions of the egg, which can be obtained from both the white and the yolk. The dried egg powder can be incorporated into drinks, nutrition bars, sports foods and other functional foods. (European Patent Application EP 1 143 984