Vitamin B3 could prevent miscarriages and birth defects

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An extra dose of vitamin B3 might help prevent certain kinds of complex birth defects, according to a new study. It is thought the vitamin can help compensate for defects in the body’s ability to make a molecule, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which researchers have now linked for the first time to healthy fetal development in humans.

Every year 7.9 million babies are born with a birth defect worldwide. The discovery suggests the possibility that boosting levels of B3 in pregnant women’s diets might help lower overall rates of birth defects.

Researchers from the Victor Chang Institute in Sydney called it ‘a double breakthrough’ as they found both a cause and a preventative solution. The researchers analysed the DNA of four families where the mothers had suffered multiple miscarriages or their babies were born with multiple birth defects, such as heart, kidney, vertebrae and cleft palate problems.

They found mutations in two genes that caused the child to be deficient in a vital molecule known as Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which allows cells to generate energy and organs to develop normally. Lead researcher Prof Sally Dunwoodie replicated these mutations in mice and found they could be corrected if the pregnant mother took niacin (vitamin B3).

“You can boost your levels of NAD and completely prevent the miscarriages and birth defects. It bypasses the genetic problem,” she said. “It’s rare that you find a cause and a prevention in the same study. And the prevention is so simple, it’s a vitamin,” she said.

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Back In 2005, Dunwoodie’s team dealt with a particularly severe case, a baby who had major defects in the heart, backbone, and ribs; the rib problems being so bad that the child’s lungs couldn’t fully inflate. The team found that the family carried a mutation in a gene related to the production of NAD, a molecule crucial for energy storage and DNA synthesis in cells. Both parents carried a mutation in one of their copies of the gene, and the affected baby had inherited two defective copies.

No one had reported any role for NAD in heart or bone development, Dunwoodie says. “We didn’t know what to do with it.”

To confirm the role of the mutations in organ and bone development, the researchers knocked out the two genes in mice to see whether similar birth defects appeared. At first all the pups were normal. But then the researchers realised that standard mouse chow is rich in niacin and that cells can use either niacin or nicotinamide—both known together as vitamin B3—to make NAD by an alternate pathway.

The work opens a potentially exciting new area of research for developmental biologists: Trying to understand how cell metabolism affects development

 

 

Exploragen launches new sleep app

DNA lifestyle company Exploragen last week launched their first iOS app, which is available on Helix.com. The online marketplace of DNA-powered products offers insights on nutrition, fitness, health, ancestry, family and entertainment. The new app, which is named SlumberType, is a lifestyle app providing insights on the genetics of sleep, enabling people to understand the way sleep can be influenced by DNA.

Handsome man sleeping with smartphone in hand

By analysing four key sleep measurements – Chronotype, Sleep Quality, Sleep Onset Latency and Sleep Duration – the app helps users conclude whether they are a morning or night person, how long it may take them to fall asleep, the duration and quality of their sleep, and how these factors may affect other areas of their lives. SlumberType also features tools and trackers which monitor everyday behaviour that potentially affects sleep.

“Our bodies function at their best when we get the right amount of sleep. SlumberType will allow people to understand how their unique biology, combined with their daily habits and activities, affects their sleep patterns, so they can optimise their lifestyle for better sleep”, said Exploragen co-founder and Head of Science Sara Riordan.

The app was recently launched on 24th July and is available now on Helix.com.

The future of diagnostic wearables?

 

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The University of Tokyo has recently started to develop a new generation of wearable diagnostics. The hypoallergenic electronic sensor wearables are designed to monitor health indicators without being invasive or causing any discomfort.

The electronic sensors are made up of breathable nanoscale meshes that attach directly to the skin to produce accurate and precise readings of heart rate and other health indicators. Japanese scientists believe the new wearables can be worn for up to one week, without causing any irritation. However, if devices are worn over a longer period it is thought they may be deemed unsafe, as they prevent breathability and block airflow causing irritation and inflammation.

“We learned that devices that can be worn for a week or longer for continuous monitoring were needed for practical use in medical and sports applications” says Professor Takao Someya at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Engineering.

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The device can be applied by spraying a small amount of water, which dissolves PVA nanofibres to allow it to stick to the skin. It is designed to fit curvilinear surfaces of skin making it ideal to apply to sweat pores and index fingers.

Scientists are hopeful this is the beginning of a new chapter for wearable diagnostics and hope that it will be possible to measure health indicators without causing stress or discomfort to the user. The device is thought to not only be the future for medical diagnostics, but also have applications for sports technology.

 

 

6 Predictions on Amazon as the New Wellness Destination

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How Amazon plans to connect all the dots of health

The news about Amazon intending to acquire Whole Foods is no surprise as media rumors have been spreading around in recent weeks. So while most attention is focused on the deal per se, there are some retail strategy fundamentals to consider for the future of Amazon as the new wellness destination.

1) All started by capturing the online platform for health and wellness

There is no doubt that Amazon has increased its business of health and wellness business via online sales of vitamins, supplements, and other wellness products. Although still a relatively small share of all Amazon sales, it is growing fast. Check out this infographic from OneClick Retail. I did a search on probiotics supplements and it turned over 10,000 results! Amazon follows a two prong strategy. On one side, Amazon is allowing hundreds, if not thousands, of small and medium size companies to sell to consumers in a very convenient and direct manner, and most importantly, cost effective. And this is precisely one of the reasons why many smaller players have seen their sales boom against the lower growth rates of bigger established brands from large multinational companies.

2) Launching their own brand in wellness

Amazon is not shy and knowing that health and wellness is now a super hot area to invest in consumer goods, they decided to launch their own line of supplements Elements aiming to capture this fast rising category in fast moving consumer goods. Although the current line consists of a few options, I would not be surprised if this is expanded.

3) The power of the cloud

Amazon is one of the largest providers of cloud services. As such, they have expanded their cloud services to medical practices allowing physicians to set up store fronts to be able to sell their “doctor” brands of vitamins and supplements directly to their patients. As consumers become more concerned about the quality and safety of supplements, many physicians who practice in the wellness space are seeing a good opportunity to boost their income as reimbursement from payers decrease. Moreover, the power of the cloud will allow Amazon one day to be able to store electronic health records (EHRs) and personal health records (PHRs) from wearables and medical monitoring and tracking devices in one convenient place to achieve and effective and less costly healthcare link between practitioners and consumers.

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4) The retailing of health and wellness clinics

Watch out Walgreens and CVS! The move of Amazon to acquire Whole Foods confirms a trend of grocery retailers to establish their own health and wellness clinics. One example is Hy-Vee, a humble yet growing employee-owned grocery chain in the Midwest US that expanded its Retail Health Clinics this year in partnership with some of the leading health systems in the US such as Mayo Clinic. Back in 2015 Whole Foods had announced the possibility of opening up a retail medical clinic within Whole Foods, but it has not fully materialized. Amazon may potentially reinvigorate the wellness spirit within Whole Foods.

5) Amazon as the new pharmacy

Last month Amazon hinted the intention to possibly play in the online pharmacy business in a news report that has raised eyebrows as it can disrupt the traditional model of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Amazon can easily do this quicker if it focuses first on over-the-counter drugs (OTCs), vitamins and supplements while meeting regulatory requirements for prescription (Rx) drugs dispensing.

6) The future vision: Amazon seeks to close the loop of health and wellness

Imagine this: Amazon is a comprehensive and holistic health and wellness destination where consumers will be able to drive and purchase their health. The connected dots of consumer health consist of:

  • Convenient online sales, including mobile
  • Own brand with certified quality, safety and efficacy
  • Artificial intelligence – Echo (Alexa) to provide guidance on health issues supported by their partnership with WebMD
  • Brick-and-mortar presence as health and wellness destination capitalizing on Whole Foods name
  • Virtual pharmacist and healthcare practitioner for consultation and guidance (telemedicine)
  • Integration of health in the cloud – consumers will be able to access all their health records in one convenient place with no hassle

In one word, a beautiful integration of consumer health!

Ali Health via Alibaba is already doing this in China so it will be interesting to see how the two e-commerce titans compete in the world of health and wellness.

Monica Feldman is a Consumer Health Strategist, Group Director of Client Services at Nicholas Hall & Co and a leading voice on global trends related to over-the-counter (OTC) products for preventive health, self-care and the extension of health span.

OTC DASHBOARD: New mobile app!

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We’re very excited to announce the launch of a new mobile app for OTC DASHBOARD subscribers, providing instant access on your smartphone to all data and content at a global, regional and country level, tracking all 64 markets that we cover. Subscribers will also find available the latest consumer healthcare news, infographics and ad campaigns, plus the Market Movers and Dates For Your Diary features.

We’re happy to announce the mobile app will be free as part of your existing OTC DASHBOARD subscription package, and no in-app purchases are required. The app is available on both the Android (Google Play) and Apple stores at:

Android: LINK

Apple: LINK

Below is a very quick “how to” guide to getting started with the mobile app:

  1. After downloading the app to your smartphone and logging in to it with the same log-in details that you use for the OTC DASHBOARD website, you will be taken through to the app’s homepage, entitled “OTC Dashboard: News Feed”.
  2. As well as being able to scroll down through the news feed to check recent OTC developments, there are also three main points of navigation on the homepage (see the three red arrows in the three screenshots below). First, and most important, is the triple bar symbol () at the top left, which allows you to navigate through all the various features, including Global Market Overview – press the + button to the right of this for the submenu allowing access to seven areas of content.
  3. Secondly, the triple dot symbol () at the top right allows you to navigate through important app information, including your My OTC DASHBOARD shortcuts (“Dashboard”), as well as allowing you to log out of the app.
  4. Thirdly, and finally, clicking on the globe symbol at the bottom left of the page allows you to select whether you want to view data and content in the market overview section at global, regional or country level (press the + button to select any country within any region).

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Using the same globe symbol, the app allows users to switch between regions and countries while in certain sections of the Global Market Overview, for example Category Watch, but to switch to other features in the submenu, for example from Category Watch to Brand Watch, you will need to use the back button and triple bar symbol () at the top left to navigate. Many of the charts are interactive, allowing you to drill down for further information on a particular country, category, marketer or brand, and giving you access to a huge wealth of information on the global OTC market in just one easy-to-access app.

Please also note that many aspects of the app are interactive, allowing you to explore further. For example, if you click on companies or brands in Company Watch or Brand Watch, you will open a pop-up screen with more trend information.

We hope you enjoy exploring the new OTC DASHBOARD mobile app, and if you have any questions or issues, please feel free to contact one of the team:

Dave Redford: David.Redford@NicholasHall.com

Hannah Burke: Hannah.Burke@NicholasHall.com

NB: Please note that this app requires access to the internet. If WiFi isn’t available, and your cellular data is on, this app will use your cellular connection in order to operate.

#NHOTC17: Day 1

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Our 28th European OTC INSIGHT conference, centred on the theme of Making the Most of New Technology, took place in Munich last week. Following Nicholas’ annual overview of the global OTC market, and what’s ahead, there was a packed schedule of presentations on topics including the future of digital OTC and what we see technology providers delivering now and in the future.

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Nicholas Hall kicked off proceedings on Day 1

Richard Learwood of PGT Healthcare got our brains into gear on the morning of Day 1 with a thought-provoking discussion on accelerating growth in consumer healthcare, and this was shortly followed by Dr Dennis Ballwieser, of Wort & Bild, who shed some light on the future of partnerships in digital publishing and how digital is affecting the print industry in healthcare.

Leading into the lunch session, Infirst Healthcare’s Manfred Scheske led a thought-provoking session, which showed us how our industry is extremely focused on Strategic Growth and Share Grab, but needs to step up its ambition to shape market conditions and to grow markets. He addressed the increasing number of line extensions, which have successfully grown many big OTC brands, but less and less new products offer meaningful news, and patients and pharmacists and the general public are increasingly irritated and confused by the tidal wave of ‘plus’, ‘forte’, ‘extra’, ‘ultra’, ‘max’, ‘advance’, ‘extra advance’, ‘rapid’, ‘express’, etc.” Certainly food for the mind before we ate our lunch!

After lunch, Alison Hartley from Sanofi got the conference back into swing with a presentation on Digital Excellence, explaining that content is key but distribution is queen! Alison also delved into the many ways that digital has enabled us to do things we wouldn’t have been able to do without digital media.

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Alison Hartley focuses on Digital Excellence in OTC

Our very own Monica Feldman also enlightened us on e-connecting the revenue dots, explaining that VIRAL = REVENUE and to have this you must have humour, heart, brains and guts. Trevor Gore of Maestro Consulting took to the stage as our final speaker on Day 1, alongside David Taylor, leading us to contemplate whether technology is helping us or making us addicts? Trevor certainly lifted spirits with his stand up presenting style!

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Our Global Director of Client Services, Monica Feldman

Look out for more Dashboard blog content coming soon, including Day 2 of the conference and the Nicholas Hall Awards. As an official announcement now the conference has ended, we hope to see you next year in… Barcelona, for our 29th European OTC conference #NHOTC18.

Nielsen-CHPA Survey on OTC Allergy Trends

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Coughing, sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes are just some of the symptoms of seasonal or chronic allergies, one of the most common ailments impacting the lives of Americans today, according to a new white paper on Rx-to-OTC allergy switches, produced by Nielsen and the US OTC industry association, Consumer Health Products Association (CHPA).

In 2015, 27.8% of Americans suffered from allergies, which translates to approximately 69 million adults, and 89 million people overall. Since 2009, a number of ingredients, including antihistamines and intranasal steroids that were only available Rx, have now switched to OTC, giving consumers more options to treat their allergies.

While there is abundant data to show that allergy OTC sales have grown significantly owing to the increasing number of brands available, there haven’t been many studies conducted to understand how these Rx-to- OTC switches have benefitted allergy sufferers.

Nielsen’s latest report assesses the consumer benefits of allergy Rx-OTC switches to help gain an understanding of allergy-suffering consumers and how having access to more oral and nasal OTC medications has contributed to their financial and personal wellbeing.

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The survey is made up of data based around allergy patient visits, the number of prescriptions written by month, the costs for each, and corresponding insurance-related costs. Nielsen also provided data on allergy sufferer penetration, their buying behaviour, and how each consumer treats their ailment. 
A survey was also fielded to 2,000 adult allergy sufferers to better understand their treatment routine and overall satisfaction with their medication options.

The report found that more and more Americans are suffering from allergies. Over the time period analysed, the number of individuals who stated that they suffer from allergies has increased. There are approximately 9.7mn more allergy sufferers today than there were
 in 2010.

There has also been a clear shift to OTCs. 
The number of allergy sufferers taking OTCs has increased, while 
at the same time the number of sufferers taking prescription medications has declined. Just as importantly, the report also found that allergy sufferers who take OTCs are highly satisfied with the medication options available to them.

The report is available to download here.