News Article | February 27, 2017
Chronic pain sufferers and those taking mental health meds would rather turn to cannabis instead of their prescribed opioid medication, according to new research by the University of British Columbia and University of Victoria. "This study is one of the first to track medical cannabis use under the new system of licensed producers, meaning that all participants had physician authorization to access cannabis in addition to their prescription medicines," says UBC Assoc. Prof. Zach Walsh, co-author of the study. The study tracked more than 250 patients with prescribed medical cannabis--people treated for conditions such as chronic pain, mental health and gastrointestinal issues. Overall, 63 per cent of respondents reported using cannabis instead of their prescription drugs, which included opioids (to treat pain), benzodiazepines (sedatives) and anti-depressants. Study lead Philippe Lucas is vice-president of Patient Research and Access at Tilray, a federally authorized medical cannabis production and research company, and a graduate fellow at the University of Victoria Centre for Addictions Research of BC. Lucas suggests the main reasons for the switch to cannabis from prescribed meds is due to reduced side effects, better symptom management and a feeling that cannabis is safer than prescription drugs. Walsh goes on to suggest cannabis may have an important role to play in addressing the problematic use of pharmaceutical medications such as opioids. In 2001, Canada became one of the first nations to develop a program to allow access to cannabis for medical purposes. As of August 2016 more than 30 federally authorized licensed producers of cannabis provided product to more than 65,000 patients. "Further research into how well cannabis works compared to the accepted front-line treatments is warranted," says Walsh. "Additionally, long-term research into the potential impact of the cannabis substitution on the quality of patient's lives is ongoing." The study, published in International Journal of Drug Policy, was funded by Tilray.
News Article | February 15, 2017
University of British Columbia researchers have developed a magnetic drug implant--the first of its kind in Canada--that could offer an alternative for patients struggling with numerous pills or intravenous injections. The device, a silicone sponge with magnetic carbonyl iron particles wrapped in a round polymer layer, measures just six millimetres in diameter. The drug is injected into the device and then surgically implanted in the area being treated. Passing a magnet over the patient's skin activates the device by deforming the sponge and triggering the release of the drug into surrounding tissue through a tiny opening. "Drug implants can be safe and effective for treating many conditions, and magnetically controlled implants are particularly interesting because you can adjust the dose after implantation by using different magnet strengths. Many other implants lack that feature," said study author Ali Shademani, a PhD student in the biomedical engineering program at UBC. Actively controlling drug delivery is particularly relevant for conditions like diabetes, where the required dose and timing of insulin varies from patient to patient, said co-author John K. Jackson, a research scientist in UBC's faculty of pharmaceutical sciences. "This device lets you release the actual dose that the patient needs when they need it, and it's sufficiently easy to use that patients could administer their own medication one day without having to go to a hospital," said Jackson. The researchers tested their device on animal tissue in the lab using the prostate cancer drug docetaxel. They found that it was able to deliver the drug on demand even after repeated use. The drug also produced an effect on cancer cells comparable to that of freshly administered docetaxel, proving that drugs stored in the device stay effective. Mu Chiao, Shademani's supervisor and a professor of mechanical engineering at UBC, said the team is working on refining the device and narrowing down the conditions for its use. "This could one day be used for administering painkillers, hormones, chemotherapy drugs and other treatments for a wide range of health conditions. In the next few years we hope to be able to test it for long-term use and for viability in living models," said Chiao. "Active regulation of on-demand drug delivery by magnetically triggerable microspouters" was recently published online in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.
News Article | February 23, 2017
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 23, 2017) - The Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences, announced today its largest-ever philanthropic gift - a $4 million investment from the Ross Beaty family in Vancouver, which will enhance the museum's national research and collections efforts focussed on species discovery. The $4 million gift will support three key initiatives which are core to what will be known as the museum's Beaty Centre for Species Discovery. This Centre of Excellence, which draws on the museum's national collections and the expertise of its scientific staff, is dedicated to creating, advancing and sharing knowledge about the discovery, naming, evolution, ecology and classification of species, both in the past and the present. The Beaty investment will support: All will be based at the museum's national research and collections facility, the Natural Heritage Campus, in Gatineau, Quebec. "The Beaty family's extraordinary generosity is a tremendous endorsement of the Canadian Museum of Nature's legacy in natural history research, collections management and public outreach about the natural world," says Meg Beckel, the museum's President and CEO. "We hope this transformational gift will inspire others to support the work of the museum, as we expand the museum's ability to share its knowledge worldwide, to mentor future scientists and to inspire understanding, respect and appreciation of the natural world for a better natural future." The gift was announced at an event in the presence of Ross and Trisha Beaty, who reside in Vancouver. Mr. Beaty is a geologist and resource entrepreneur, and his wife Trisha Beaty is a physician. Their passion for nature and the environment impelled them to support the museum's mission. "I'm always reminded that less than one percent of human philanthropy goes to nature and the environment. Yet our one species is having such a heavy footprint on the other millions of species that don't have voices. So I'm most pleased to lend my support to the museum and its research expertise," says Ross Beaty, whose philanthropy also led to the creation of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum on the campus of the University of British Columbia. "My hope is that this investment will help promote the Canadian Museum of Nature as a great Canadian biodiversity research institution and enhance its reputation as a great national natural history museum." "The Canadian Museum of Nature plays a vital role in preserving Canada's resources, educating Canadians and inspiring innovation. This donation will enable the museum to further protect and promote our unique natural heritage and diversity, allowing for a meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, we encourage Canadians across the country to visit museums, learn from them and reconnect with their history and culture," says the the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. Two million dollars from the $4 million gift will fund the creation of a national cryogenic facility, which will include an examination room, and large, super-cooled vats filled with liquid nitrogen to house tissue samples and genetic material. The material to be stored will come from the museum's research activities, and from donations by other government and university institutions across Canada, and abroad. Another $1 million will support the digitization and high-resolution imaging of the museum's collections of about 350,000 Arctic specimens. These include some of the best examples in the world of plants, animals, fossils and minerals from this region. The free digital data will ensure this evidence of the Arctic's natural history is available globally to researchers, students, historians, policy makers and educators. A further $1 million will create the Beaty Post-Doctoral Fellowship for Species Discovery. Endowed through the Community Foundation of Ottawa, the fellowship will fund a post-doctoral scientist every two years to investigate species at risk. The scientist's role will also include public outreach about species loss, species at risk and the importance of conservation to species preservation. The fellowship is slated to begin in spring 2018. At the announcement, the museum honoured the Beaty donation with a personal gift to the family. Museum entomologist Dr. Bob Anderson, an expert on the group of beetles known as weevils, revealed a species new to science, which he has named Sicoderus beatyi in the family's honour. About the Canadian Museum of Nature The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14.6 million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca. The museum is a founding member of the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada and COSEWIC (the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada), and collaborates with national and international partners to share knowledge about the natural world. About Ross Beaty and the Beaty Family Ross and Trisha Beaty's philanthropic efforts are centred through their Sitka Foundation, which supports organizations that advance land and nature conservation, invests in community environmental projects and groups globally, and provides leadership in environmental stewardship and education. Ross Beaty is a geologist and resource entrepreneur with over 45 years of experience in the international minerals and renewable energy industries. A graduate of the University of British Columbia in geology and law, and Imperial College in geology, Mr Beaty is an internationally recognized leader in both non-renewable and renewable resource development. He has founded and divested a number of companies and remains founder and Chairman of Pan American Silver Corp., one of the world's leading silver producers, and founder and Chairman of Alterra Power Corp., a mid-sized renewable energy company with solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power operations in B.C., Texas, Indiana and Iceland. Mr. Beaty is also a well-known environmental philanthropist, primarily through The Sitka Foundation. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Nature Trust of BC, is a Director of The Pacific Salmon Foundation, a Director of Panthera, and is patron of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC. He and his wife Trisha, who is a physician, have a son and four daughters.
News Article | February 20, 2017
With an upcoming publication in the Worldwide Leaders in Healthcare, Colleen Harrington, BSN, RN, joins the prestigious ranks of the International Nurses Association. Colleen Harrington is a Registered Nurse with 11 years of experience in her field and an extensive expertise in all facets of nursing, especially clinical research and education. Colleen is currently serving as Senior Clinical Nurse Educator within UBC – An Express Scripts Company in Columbia, Illinois. Colleen attended Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, where she graduated with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies in 1999. She then went on to pursue nursing, and obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing in 2004 from Lakeview College of Nursing in Danville, Illinois. Colleen attributes her success to her desire to help others and provide the best possible care to her patients. She is passionate about educating medical professionals and patients, and when she is not working, Colleen enjoys outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, and canoeing. Learn more about Colleen Harrington here: http://inanurse.org/network/index.php?do=/4135151/info/ and be sure to read her upcoming publication in the Worldwide Leaders in Healthcare.
News Article | February 17, 2017
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC), representing over 500,000 members, announced their support of President Donald J. Trump’s nomination of Alexander Acosta for Secretary of Labor. A former Justice Department official and current dean of Florida International University College of Law, Acosta’s nomination was announced by Trump on February 16th, 2017. Acosta is an experienced former government employee. He has served in three presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed positions: member of the National Labor Relations Board, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the United States Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida. “Mr. Acosta is an advocate for the middle class. His experience will serve the members of the UBC well,” said Douglas J. McCarron, General President of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. “We look forward to working with him as Secretary of Labor to continue to build the skilled American workforce.” Acosta is an American success story who has demonstrated his commitment to public service. Additionally, he has demonstrated his commitment to issues important to the UBC such as fighting payroll fraud. For more information on the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, please visit: http://www.carpenters.org
News Article | February 15, 2017
LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - Feb 13, 2017) - Ritter Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ( : RTTR) ("Ritter Pharmaceuticals" or the "Company"), a developer of novel therapeutic products that modulate the human gut microbiome to treat gastrointestinal diseases, today announced that it is collaborating with Dr. B Brett Finlay from the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia ("UBC") to study the role of the microbiome and RP-G28 in environmental enteropathy ("EE"). As part of the collaboration, Dr. B. Brett Finlay, an award-winning microbiologist in the fields of innate immunity and microbiome research, plans to explore the microbiome's role in environmental enteropathy. The pre-clinical research is designed to build upon Dr. Finlay's previously published studies demonstrating the gut microbiome's role in contributing to the causes of EE. Ritter Pharmaceuticals is providing its lead compound, RP-G28, for use in the study. RP-G28 is currently in a Phase 2b/3 study in humans for the treatment of lactose intolerance. In previous human studies, RP-G28 has demonstrated significant beneficial changes to the gut microbiome that have been associated with potential to improve a variety of digestive disorders. Andrew J. Ritter, Co-founder and President of Ritter Pharmaceuticals, added, "we are pleased to be collaborating with Dr. Finlay and his team to better understand therapeutic interventions that may reverse signs of environmental enteropathy, a significant worldwide health issue. We're excited to apply our clinical knowledge of RP-G28 in a way that has significant possibilities to produce substantial social benefits in developing countries." Dr. B Brett Finlay, Professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories, and the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Microbiology and Immunology at the University of British Columbia, added, "We are pleased to be working with Ritter Pharmaceuticals to explore potential treatments and therapies to environmental enteropathy that affects so many of the world's children. Testing RP-G28 in the relevant model will greatly facilitate preclinical testing of this compound for affecting the outcome of EE." Ritter Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (www.RitterPharma.com, @RitterPharma) develops novel therapeutic products that modulate the gut microbiome to treat gastrointestinal diseases. Its lead product, RP-G28, has the potential to become the first FDA-approved treatment for lactose intolerance, a condition that affects millions worldwide. The company is further exploring the functionality and discovering the therapeutic potential gut microbiome changes may have on treating/preventing a variety of conditions including: gastrointestinal diseases, immuno-oncology, metabolic, and liver disease. About the University of British Columbia The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC's entrepreneurial spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. UBC encourages its students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world. This release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements related to our ability to bring RP-G28 to market. Management believes that these forward-looking statements are reasonable as and when made. However, such statements involve a number of known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause the Company's future results, performance or achievements to differ significantly from the results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, risks associated with the drug development process generally, including the outcomes of planned clinical trials and the regulatory review process. For a discussion of certain risks and uncertainties affecting Ritter Pharmaceuticals' forward-looking statements, please review the Company's reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including, but not limited to, its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the period ended December 31, 2015 and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the periods ended March 31, 2016, June 30, 2016 and September 30, 2016. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made. These statements are based on management's current expectations and Ritter Pharmaceuticals does not undertake any responsibility to revise or update any forward-looking statements contained herein, except as expressly required by law.
News Article | February 16, 2017
Fin whales use two neatly packed levels of nested folds to protect the nerves along the floor of their mouth during lunge feeding, according to new research from University of British Columbia zoologists. Large whales balloon an immense pocket between their body wall and overlying blubber to store captured prey during feeding dives--extending nerves along their mouth and tongue to more than double their length. "But when they shorten again these nerves have to fold so tightly that they develop bending stretches, which could damage the nerve," says UBC zoologist Margo Lillie, author of the paper in Current Biology. "It surprised me that just folding them up created a problem." The solution: the nerves use a Russian doll-like structure to nest folds. "The first level of waviness allows the nerve to extend when feeding. Then the nerve structure is folded at a second level of waviness at a smaller length scale--that creates enough slack in the shortened nerve tissue to allow it to go around each fold without being damaged." The whale nerves are so large that Lillie and UBC colleagues Wayne Vogl, Kelsey Gil, John Gosline and Robert Shadwick were able to use microCT to visualize the nerve's 3D structure. The shape of the recoiled nerve is the same as a river meander. "The shape is a sine generated curve, which is characteristic of a wide range of natural structures including the jet stream, a buckled rod, and flow patterns in rock," says Lillie. "The bends tend to be as uniform as possible and this minimizes the work required to make the structure. It's a special, ideal shape." Rorquals are the largest group among baleen whales, and include blue whales and fin whales. The research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.
News Article | February 16, 2017
To feed, fin whales open their mouths wide open to entrap their prey and plenty of water, then filter it all through baleen plates. The fin whale, which is found in deep offshore waters around the planet, can open its mouth so wide that you could stick a school bus inside, said University of British Columbia researcher Margo Lillie. So how do whale jaws stretch that much? It has to do with their nerves. Unlike the nerves in most other species, rorqual whales (including the fin whale) are capable of stretching to double their size and shortening without sustaining damage—and we finally know how, thanks to findings published today in Current Biology. These nerves have a double-waviness that lets them expand, said the same UBC scientists who observed the capability two years ago in the Ventral Groove Blubber (VGB) nerves of fin whales. This expansion is necessary for whales to open their jaws and take in an incredible amount of water, sometimes more than the volume of the whale itself. In other species, like humans, more than a bit of nerve stretching can cause lethal damage. But when Lillie put the fin whale nerves under a microscope, they didn't look like other nerve cells: they expanded, contracted, and were abnormally wavy on two levels. "I saw what looked like hairpin turns, and I said, 'Well this doesn't make sense,'" Lillie told Motherboard in a phone interview. "It shouldn't be able to make those really tight turns. How do you build a nerve, something that cannot stretch, to get longer and shorter?" All nerves have some level of waviness—but while my nerves would look like a gently sloping, mostly straight line, Lillie said whale nerves look more like "meandering rivers." The surprise in this discovery was that it's not only the outer nerve walls that curve and fold (as shown in the navy walls of the winding islands in the illustration, which is actually a 3D scan of a fin whale nerve), letting the nerve stretch when it needs to, but also the nerve core (represented in light blue). It is this core that leads to nerve damage when overexerted in other species. Read More: Why Solar Storms Might Be Killing Whales and Dolphins Lillie and her colleagues collected some whale nerves, stretched them to see how far they would extend, and looked at their structure with micro-CT scan. They found that different nerves could extend to different amounts, and instead of the normal one layer, the VGB had a double layer of waviness that let them expand into a straight line or contract like tightly-twisted coil. Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.
News Article | March 2, 2017
Renting out unused residential parking could be the answer to chronic parking shortages in Vancouver's West End, according to a new University of British Columbia study that compared residential parking stalls with building occupancy in the neighbourhood. "We found that 46 of the area's 600-plus residential properties have at least 3,700 vacant parking stalls between them. If we relocate cars to use that excess capacity and charge for short-term parking, you'd have enough parking for everyone," said study author Neal Abbott, a Seattle-area transportation planner who conducted the work for his master's program at UBC's school of community and regional planning. The West End--situated between West Georgia Street, Burrard Street, Stanley Park and English Bay -- is one of Vancouver's highest-density neighbourhoods. The city estimates that during busy periods, it takes residents around five minutes and more than one kilometre of extra driving to find a parking spot. For visitors who are less familiar with the area, it takes them around 10 minutes and almost three extra kilometres. Yet researchers say there's actually more than enough parking to go around, thanks to the high parking requirements imposed by the city in the 1970s through the 1990s, when many West End buildings were constructed. Many of the properties they analyzed had 50 or more parking stalls sitting empty, particularly during work hours. "Research and policies over the past 20-plus years tell us that overly abundant parking encourages car dependence, increases the construction costs for new buildings, and limits land supply," said Alex Bigazzi, a professor in UBC's department of civil engineering and school of community and regional planning who supervised the study. "A shared parking program would release parking spots without forcing developers or the city to add to parking supply." The researchers said that it would be fairly easy to convert many off-street stalls through signage without creating parking congestion in the buildings or a lot of site modifications. "City planners would need to examine the business case and legal requirements for conversion, but ultimately, parking shortages negatively impact residents' quality of life," said Abbott, whose study was also part of Vancouver's Greenest City Scholars program. The paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in early January. Click here to download a copy.
News Article | February 17, 2017
University of British Columbia microbiologists have found a yeast in the gut of new babies in Ecuador that appears to be a strong predictor that they will develop asthma in childhood. The new research furthers our understanding of the role microscopic organisms play in our overall health. "Children with this type of yeast called Pichia were much more at risk of asthma," said Brett Finlay, a microbiologist at UBC. "This is the first time anyone has shown any kind of association between yeast and asthma." In previous research, Finlay and his colleagues identified four gut bacteria in Canadian children that, if present in the first 100 days of life, seem to prevent asthma. In a followup to this study, Finlay and his colleagues repeated the experiment using fecal samples and health information from 100 children in a rural village in Ecuador. Canada and Ecuador both have high rates of asthma with about 10 per cent of the population suffering from the disease. They found that while gut bacteria play a role in preventing asthma in Ecuador, it was the presence of a microscopic fungus or yeast known as Pichia that was more strongly linked to asthma. Instead of helping to prevent asthma, however, the presence of Pichia in those early days puts children at risk. Finlay also suggests there could be a link between the risk of asthma and the cleanliness of the environment for Ecuadorian children. As part of the study, the researchers noted whether children had access to clean water. "Those that had access to good, clean water had much higher asthma rates and we think it is because they were deprived of the beneficial microbes," said Finlay. "That was a surprise because we tend to think that clean is good but we realize that we actually need some dirt in the world to help protect you." Now Finlay's colleagues will re-examine the Canadian samples and look for the presence of yeast in the gut of infants. This technology was not available to the researchers when they conducted their initial study. This research was a collaboration with Marie-Claire Arrieta, a former UBC postdoctoral fellow and now an assistant professor at the University of Calgary, and Philip Cooper, a professor at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. This research was presented today at the 2017 annual meeting for Association for the Advancement of Science: https:/ . Finlay is in Boston for the conference and is also available by phone.