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Research briefs

FDA joins fight against trans fat

High levels of artificial trans-fat in processed foods have been known to cause 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths related to heart disease every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In an effort to reduce such diseases, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently decided to take steps to ban transfat, although a specific timeline has not been set up as of yet.

Since 2006, manufacturers are required to state the amount of transfat contained in products on the food labels. Still, the general population consumes large amounts of transfat on a daily level through processed foods, such as microwaveable popcorn, cookies, and frozen pie dough, just to name a few. Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are also a major source of trans fat and if the FDA deems that PHOs are no longer considered to be generally safe, this could lead to a significant decrease of artificial transfat in foods. According to CTV News, Health Canada is being criticized for its lack of involvement in transfat regulation.

Until the ban takes place, FDA advises consumers to look at the nutrition facts and choose products that have the lowest amount of saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fat.


Tackling neglected diseases with new partnerships

Infectious diseases studied at the forefront of scientific research have led to many scientific advancements and a lower fatality ratio in the human population. These include leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness, and Chagas disease. However, according to a recent article in Scientific American, many infectious diseases that cause cognitive defects rather than death are often put to the side—especially those affecting developing countries. This has resulted in a lag in progress compared to more commonly known and deadly diseases.

A solution to this may very well be the recent partnership between the government of Japan, the UN Development Program, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and several Japanese pharmaceutical companies. These organizations have decided to pool their resources together to create a fund to deal with these ‘neglected diseases.’ For instance, they aim to increase research towards the development of a drug to fight malaria.

Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) is the result of such a partnership with a focus on battling neglected diseases common in developing nations. Global Innovative Health Technology Fund (GHIT) CEO BT Slingsby told Scientific American that the cause is important because, “[HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and other neglected tropical diseases] are the diseases that have the most unmet medical needs […] and lack innovations of technology.”

This type of collaboration could be a milestone in global health research and development to ultimately improve accessibility and health for the poor in developing nations.

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