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    You are here : Home » MS Research News » New Discoveries » Calcium Binding Proteins

    Calcium Binding Proteins

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    Easing the pain of MS - Shauna Fischer’s story helps prompt unique research study 16 September 2010

    HOPE MS Trial logoIn recent decades, the number of young women diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, has grown — women of child-bearing age who are in the prime of their lives.

    MS, an inflammatory disease that assaults the central nervous system, brain, spinal cord and optic nerves — is potentially debilitating and painful.

    For years physicians, scientists and medical researchers have been working to discover its primary cause, the reasons behind its aggressiveness and remission, and to create methods that might improve the quality of life of those who suffer from it.

    Shauna Fischer, a 35-year-old Wisconsin social worker and mother of three, was diagnosed with MS in June 2007. “When I was diagnosed” she said, “They found 47 lesions on my brain, more than are usually found. Taking the medications prescribed caused half of the lesions to disappear, but some of the symptoms remained.  That’s why I felt it so important that my recent experience be known to others.”

    Among Shauna’s symptoms were muscle spasms that were causing her legs to jerk involuntarily, making it impossible for her to sleep. “I would have to try to sleep on the couch, putting my legs between the cushions to keep them from moving,” she said.

    Through an association with an MS support group, she heard about a supplement that could be purchased without prescription. About two months ago, Shauna began taking one 40 mg. supplement before beginning her daily routine each morning.  “It’s been amazing. After only five nights the jerking in my legs was gone, and has not returned.” 

    The supplement, based on a jellyfish protein that in university-level research has proven to help protect brain cells, is manufactured by Quincy Bioscience, a biotechnology company focused on the development of health applications derived from this protein source.

    “Today, as a result of getting more sound sleep, I am more rested, and better at handling things in my life,” Shauna added.  “But I have also noticed an increase in my cognitive function.  Before going on the supplement my speech was at times somewhat random, and the words coming out of my mouth were not what I wanted to say.  That has ended too.  And what’s even greater is that the product is natural and there are no side effects to deal with.”

    As Shauna was experiencing these positive changes in her life, at first she remained cautious about sharing her story. “I didn’t want to give false hope to others, so I waited a month even though I was seeing improvement.  I didn’t want to begin relating my experience until I knew it was the real deal.”

    In part as a result of Shauna’s story and of others who have come forward to share similar experiences, Quincy Bioscience, through its research arm, HOPE Trials, has created an innovative study to evaluate the effects of its jellyfish protein-based supplement on quality of life symptoms for those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

    The study, now recruiting participants, and which will take six months to complete once it gets underway sometime this fall, allows most interactions with study subjects to take place exclusively online.

    This inventive procedure allows the data to be created without the subjects having to leave home. “With no need for a clinical trial site,” said Mark Underwood, co-founder and president of six-year-old Quincy Bioscience, “doing trials this way allows us to throw open the doors of recruitment and invite many to participate who might not otherwise be able to, due to travel restrictions.” 

    Meanwhile, Shauna Fischer goes on with her life, feeling good about how the supplement has helped her, and “that I’m fortunate in that I can now talk about this to others with MS and give them hope.”

    Source: Norman-Robert Communications (16/09/10)

    Quincy Bioscience announces launch of MS HOPE trial 09 June 2010

    HOPE MS WebsiteHOPE Trials and Quincy Bioscience together with MS advocate and author Shelley Peterman Schwarz officially announce the launch of an innovative Multiple Sclerosis study evaluating the effect of a jellyfish protein on quality of life symptoms for people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
    MS HOPE Trials is enrolling participants with all forms of multiple sclerosis at the HOPE Trials website.  By utilizing the internet for both recruitment and data gathering, Quincy Bioscience will reach a large number of people who might otherwise not participate in research due to time and travel limitations.
    The MS HOPE Trial is one study of several planned under HOPE Trials, a larger research initiative by Quincy Bioscience, a Madison Wisconsin based biotechnology company which has developed the use of a jellyfish protein called apoaequorin for a wide range of potential health benefits. 
    The research effort is driven, in part, by reports given to Quincy Bioscience of individuals with MS who experienced similar positive results taking the jellyfish protein-based supplement.  The trial design is placebo-controlled and participants are blinded to which arm they are enrolled.  The study is six months long and each participant will be asked to track certain functional aspects of living with MS and report their results.
    In partnering with Shelley Peterman Schwarz, a strong MS advocate and someone who continues to overcome the challenges of living with MS, HOPE Trials will be able to reach many more people in the MS community across the country. Shelley has written for national publications such as Neurology Now offering valuable patient perspectives on living with multiple sclerosis.   Shelley has met the challenges of MS head on and has authored several books helping others diagnosed with chronic conditions with practical tips on making life a little easier.  Individuals living with MS can also find valuable information on over coming day-to-day struggles on Shelley’s website
    Schwarz explains in her book Multiple Sclerosis 300 Tips for Making Life Easier the importance of being able to function cognitively.  “When I was first diagnosed with MS, cognitive problems were thought to affect only a small number of people. Today, however, it is thought that between 43 and 65 percent of people who have MS have some cognitive problems. Problems with concentration, memory, processing information, or communications may be very frustrating.”
    Patients with MS suffer from a decreased quality of life in many areas including memory, sleep, pain, mobility, muscle and speech difficulties. Although this is just some of the many exasperating symptoms of MS, the MS HOPE Trials study will be able to provide hope to people living with MS by improving their quality of life.
    About Shelley Peterman Schwarz
    Shelley Peterman Schwarz graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and was a teacher of the hearing impaired in the Madison (WI) Metropolitan School District for 13 years. In 1979 Shelley learned that she had multiple sclerosis. Shelley is a motivational speaker and award-winning writer and author, her Tips for Making Life EasierTM have appeared in numerous publications including the Wisconsin State Journal, Mature Lifestyles, Arthritis Today, Neurology Now, and Inside MS. She appears monthly on the Noon News on WISC-TV, the CBS affiliate in Madison, WI.
    About Quincy Bioscience
    Quincy Bioscience is a biotechnology company based in Madison, Wisconsin. Quincy Bioscience is focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of novel compounds to fight the aging process. The company's products focus on restoring calcium balance related to neurodegenerative disorders and other destructive age-related mechanisms.

    Source: dBusiness News Copyright 2002 - 2010, dBusinessNews (09/06/10)

    Venomous jellyfish to the rescue 10 April 2007
    In collaboration with a UW-Milwaukee lab, a Wisconsin biotech company is developing a compound from a protein found in jellyfish to act as a neuro-protective agent which may be effective in treating neurodegenerative diseases.

    The neuro-protectant called aequorin could fight a whole series of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and other rare neuro-degenerative diseases.

    “Testing of aequorin has yielded some very promising results,” said Mark Underwood, president of Quincy Bioscience.

    Assistant professor and collaborator James Moyer of UW-Milwaukee showed that when he subjected rat brain cells to “stroke conditions” in the lab, up to 28 to 45 percent of the cells treated with aequorin survived  without any residual toxic side effects.

    Moyer’s team is now testing the protein in healthy young animals to assess whether it helps them learn and retain their memory as they age.

    Underwood became interested in aequorin during his undergraduate years majoring in psychology at UW-Milwaukee after reading an article that linked the stings of jellyfish with the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, a disease that affected his mother.

    What does a protein from a venomous jellyfish have to do with neuro-degenerative diseases? The answer has to do with calcium and calcium imbalance in the body.

    Calcium is required not only for bone growth but also for communication of neurons in the brain; learning and memory are not possible without it. But during aging and in neuro-degenerative diseases excessive inter-cellular calcium builds up and excites brain cells causing them to short circuit and eventually die.

    Cells normally control calcium influx via calcium-binding proteins that selectively bind to it preventing the calcium imbalance. Loss of these proteins is the common denominator between aging and the neurodegenerative disease process.

    Aequorin is a calcium-binding protein that is similar in structure to its corresponding human protein and by selectively binding calcium, it acts as a “surge protector” preventing excess calcium buildup. While jellyfish inject their prey with calcium and kill them via calcium mediated cell death, they use high quantities of aequorin to protect themselves from circulating high calcium levels in their bodies.

    In 2004, Underwood turned his idea of using aequorin as a neuroprotectant into a business plan. Quincy Bioscience was founded in concert with Mike Beaman, owner of the Quincy Resource Group, after recombinant techniques to make proteins in huge quantities were born. Underwood declined to discuss the amount and source of equity financing received by the company, but said it is privately funded.

    Aequorin has been used as a toxicity indicator in scientific research for 40 years, but until now it has never been investigated for its therapeutic qualities. That is why Underwood’s idea qualified for patent protection. But properties about its toxicity, availability, manufacture, and its selective calcium binding property were already known when the business started.

    Because the basic properties of the protein were well known before the company was started, Quincy Bioscience at three years old is at the eight-year mark in the typical 15-year cycle for new drug development. The company expects to launch Prevagen (the aequorin dietary supplement that keeps 55 percent of the cells treated with it alive, compared to a placebo) in the market as early as September this year. The pharmaceutical aequorin product is in the pipeline, but about seven years away from the market, Underwood estimated.

    Quincy business cards and the company website both read: “It can be done.” That’s in solidarity with President Ronald Reagan, who died the same day the company was founded – June 7, 2004. With the kind of data that experiments are showing so far, that motto may very well come true.

    Source: (10/04/07)

    © Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre

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