Cost Coming Down for Cell-cultured Protein

Chris Albrecht wrote . . . . . . . . .

Hong kong-based Avant Meats announced it has achieved a 90 percent reduction in the cost of producing its cultured functional proteins. The Hong Kong-based company also announced that it has partnered with Chinese biopharmaceutical company QuaCell to bring the cost down even further.

THe company is best-known using fish cells to create cultured fish maw and sea cucumbers, both of which are considered delicacies in Chinese cuisine. The company conducted the first tasting of its fish maw product back in November of 2019.

The company will combine its cell-cultivation technology with QuaCell’s 7,000 m2 ISO and GMP accredited facilities in China, which are equipped with bioreactors that can reach 2,000 liters to supply FDA-compliant customers globally.

With the QuaCell partnership, Avant said that that it will target and additional 75 percent cost reduction in the production of its proteins using the company’s fetal bovine serum (FBS)-free cell culture media. It plans to do this by converting ingredients to food grade from pharma grade and by optimizing its formula for large-scale bioreactors. It will also accelerate its ability to scale by at least 12 months.

Price parity with animal-based meat has been a priority for the cultured meat sector as the industry aims to bring products into the mainstream. But as new and established startups in the cultured meat space continue to innovate, the timeline for that parity continues to shrink. Future Meat brought the cost of its cell-based chicken down 1,000x over the last three years, with a quarter pound serving now costing $7.50. CellulaREvolution can continuously produce cells in a serum-free environment in small footprint. And in a recent Spoon podcast, Jim Mellon, author of Moo’s Law: An Investor’s Guide to the New Agrarian Revolution, predicted that cell cultured meat will hit price parity in just five years and will eventually be cheaper to produce than both traditional animal meat and plant-based meat.

Deals like the one between Avant and QuaCell, which pair a startup’s innovation with an established manufacturer, should certainly help increase production of cell-based protein and bring the price down in the process.

Source: The Spoon

Device Used for Thousands of Years Eases Major Cause of Female Urinary Problems

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

Many women with pelvic organ prolapse may get lasting relief from a treatment that’s been around for a few thousand years, a new study suggests.

With pelvic organ prolapse (POP), weakened muscles and supporting tissue in the pelvis allow one or more organs — including the uterus, bladder or rectum — to protrude into the vagina.

Often, women with the condition do not have symptoms and don’t need treatment, while more severe cases may require surgery to restore support to the pelvic organs. Another option to provide that support is a pessary, a device that’s inserted into the vagina.

Versions of the pessary have been used for centuries, yet there has been little research on the long-term effectiveness.

In the new study, Chinese researchers led by Dr. Lan Zhu, from the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, found that three-quarters of women given pessaries to treat POP were still getting symptom relief five years later.

The findings, published recently in the journal Menopause, are based on just 239 patients. But almost all had stage 3 or 4 POP, where the pelvic organs have dropped to or beyond the opening of the vagina.

The symptoms can include not only pressure and pain, but also urinary problems like leakage or difficulty voiding.

Considering that, the outcomes in this study are “pretty convincing,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion.

Faubion, who was not involved in the study, is medical director of The North American Menopause Society and director of the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Women’s Health.

“I think this is a great conservative option,” she said. “There’s little downside to trying it.”

Kegel exercises, which help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, may also ease symptoms. And Faubion said that even if women are using a pessary, learning Kegels is a good idea.

Pessaries are medical-grade silicon devices that come in various shapes and sizes, explained Cassandra Shaw, a urogynecology nurse practitioner at Duke Health, in Durham, N.C.

The devices do require care, she pointed out. They have to be removed and cleaned, and replaced at intervals. And if women cannot do that on their own — either because of the type of pessary, or difficulty managing it — that would mean more frequent visits to their provider.

And that could dim their satisfaction with the option, Shaw noted.

On the other hand, pessaries are a generally safe option; Shaw said complications are “rare.”

When they do happen, they include ulcerations of the vaginal tissue and bleeding. The odds of those problems can be minimized, Shaw said, if women use vaginal moisturizers or estrogen creams to protect thinning tissue from becoming irritated.

In this study, she noted, women were prescribed estrogen creams, unless there was a medical reason to avoid them.

The study included 265 women who were 69, on average, and had a “successful” pessary fitting to manage POP. (In another 47 women, the fitting failed, usually because patients found it uncomfortable or the device failed to stay in place.)

The findings show that pessaries are an “effective and safe long-term management option,” Shaw said.

Certain factors did lower the likelihood of long-term success: Women whose urinary symptoms were not improved after three months were less likely to stick with the devices.

“There are pessaries specifically for stress urinary incontinence that can support the urethra and provide relief,” Shaw pointed out.

But, she added, those devices may or may not do the trick, depending on the degree of prolapse.

For some women, Shaw noted, the pessary can actually “unmask” previously unrecognized urinary incontinence: Sometimes the prolapsed tissue obstructs the urethra, the duct through which urine moves out of the bladder. So once those prolapsed tissues are supported by the pessary, the incontinence becomes apparent.

All in all, though, both experts said the conservative route is worth trying.

“Surgery is not fool-proof, either,” Faubion pointed out. It carries potential long-term risks, including incontinence and pain during sex.

Source: HealthDay

In Pictures: Malaysian Dishes

Lamb Rendang

Kuih

Nasi kandar

Laksa

Popia basah

Bubur

How Science Evolved Its Views on Women’s Health

Michael Merschel wrote . . . . . . . . .

Men and women are different.

This might sound like the opening to a comedy routine, but scientific understanding of the significance of those differences – and how to study them – evolved slowly in recent decades.

Researchers who have been part of historic investigations say science had to overcome its own blind spots.

The awareness has been gradual, said professor Linda Van Horn, chief of the nutrition division in the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

“It wasn’t a moment in time. It was growing recognition, as most things in medicine are,” she said.

Eventually, researchers accepted that figuring out how men and women are different biologically was worthy of exploration. “It now seems kind of laughable, if you think about it,” Van Horn said.

The contrasts can be critical. Considering heart health alone, women now are known to suffer more from the effects of smoking and can exhibit different heart attack symptoms.

The barriers to understanding such differences were not always simple sexism, said Dr. Frank Speizer, the Edward H. Kass Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

“I think everybody knew women got the same diseases” as men, said Speizer, who also is a professor of environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. But when it came to heart disease, accepted wisdom declared women were protected until menopause. Research would disprove that. “But people thought that at the time. And therefore, to make a career, you had to study where the disease was,” he said. “And the disease was in men.”

Speizer was the founding principal investigator of the Nurses’ Health Study, one of the most significant studies of women’s health ever undertaken.

It aimed to look at the health effects of oral contraceptives. Speizer and his colleagues modeled their work after a famous English survey of doctors that linked smoking and cancer. Based on the groundbreaking science that study accomplished, Speizer planned to survey doctors’ wives.

“That just seemed like the logical way to go,” he said. And a test run succeeded in England in 1971.

But a follow-up test didn’t go so well. Reflecting how society was changing, test questionnaires were addressed to “Mrs.,” “Ms.” or “Doctor, give this to your wife” to see which would generate the most responses. The “Ms.” group fared worst, and in the “Mrs.” group, researchers learned that many women had never seen the survey; their husbands had filled out the form for them.

Realizing “it was an impossible situation,” Speizer shifted to surveying nurses. The rest became health history, as the study, which launched with 121,700 married nurses in 1976, and its spinoffs continue to generate valuable science. The nurses, he said, became “extraordinarily collaborative, trusted colleagues in providing their health information.”

Over the years, the Nurses’ Health Study researchers diversified both the participants (the original group, reflecting the profession at the time, was 97% white) and research areas, leading to findings about diet and exercise that shaped federal guidelines.

Van Horn is on the steering committee for a different massive research project called the Women’s Health Initiative. That study, launched in 1992, recruited more than 161,000 women. Initially, it was to examine the effects of hormone therapy, diet, and calcium and vitamin D supplementation in postmenopausal women. Breast cancer was the primary focus, but the study collected data on broad areas of women’s health.

Today, Van Horn said, the initiative continues to offer data-driven results on outcomes that are based on lifestyles led for more than two decades.

It took “some pretty strong champions of women’s health” to build support for such research, said Van Horn. She and Speizer both noted the efforts of Bernadine Healy, who, in 1991, became the first woman to run the National Institutes of Health.

In 1993, Congress rewrote laws to require the inclusion of women in medical studies. But some changes have come slowly. Many early drug studies to determine appropriate dosages were done using only male lab animals, Van Horn noted.

This was rationalized on the grounds that hormones and menstrual cycles can complicate research data. “Surprise!” she said. “They complicate life for women.”

It was only in 2014 that the NIH started requiring both male and female lab animals to be used in studies. Van Horn recalled how this prompted comedian Stephen Colbert to devote an entire monologue to the topic, cracking, “Any scientist knows it’s crucial to eliminate extraneous variables – like half the global population.”

Work remains. One study of clinical trials about cardiovascular health between 2000 and 2017 showed only 38% of the participants were women.

But future research will be able to build on efforts that began decades ago. For example, in the 1980s, Nurses’ Health Study researchers began to gather blood, tissue and toenail samples. “Those are just going to pay off in the next probably 10 years,” Speizer said, as scientists learn more about genetics and how behaviors and environment affect how genes work.

In looking to what’s next beyond these two landmark studies, Van Horn is excited about the prospects for using precision nutrition to help prevent disease. It’s clear that fruits, vegetables, whole grains and the like are good for people. “What we still don’t know – and what I’m finding more and more fascinating is – what are the male-female differences?”

Source: American Heart Association

Malaysian-style Crab Curry

Ingredients

600 g crabs
10 shallots — sliced
5 cloves garlic — sliced
3 tbsp fish curry powder
2 stalks curry leaves
300 g grated coconut
salt and pepper

Method

  1. Clean the crabs and cut into two if the crabs are too big.
  2. Blend the curry powder with a bit of water to forma thick paste.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan and fry the sliced shallots and garlic until fragrant.
  4. Add in the blended curry powder and stir-fry until the curry powder is fragrant.
  5. Squeeze out 2 cups of coconut milk, 1/2 cup thick and 1-1/2 cups diluted.
  6. Add the diluted milk and let the mixture boil.
  7. When it boils, put in the crabs, salt, pepper and curry leaves.
  8. When the crabs are cooked, add the thick milk and lower the heat.
  9. Simmer until the gravy thickens.
  10. The crabs will turn slightly reddish when cooked.
  11. Serve this dish with rice.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Traditional Malaysian Cuisine


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