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The Pharma-Nutrition interface: the gap is narrowing

Posted on: 04 Nov 10
The Pharma-Nutrition interface: the gap is narrowing

Summary

Most pharmacologists will acknowledge that nutrition is important for good health and well-being, however, at the same time it is also considered to be a chemical nightmare with unknown effects. This has not always been the case, in the past connections between pharmacology and nutrition has been more intimate, as Hippocrates once stated, ‘‘Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.


Most pharmacologists will acknowledge that nutrition is important for good health and well-being, however, at the same time it is also considered to be a chemical nightmare with unknown effects. This has not always been the case, in the past connections between pharmacology and nutrition has been more intimate, as Hippocrates once stated, ‘‘Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food. Only nature heals, provided it is given the opportunity’’. Indeed, the ancient Greeks divided medicine into three categories: diet, pharmaceutical and surgical medicine. They were not the only ones; many so-called traditional medicinal systems followed this thinking with nutrition being used as a normal part of health prevention therapy.

In more recent times, however, particularly in the western world, nutrition and pharmacology have developed as rather separate disciplines. Faced with a rapidly developing world, nutrition has had to provide safe, healthy food with limited resources to an ever expanding population. Even today malnourishment is still a harsh reality for millions of people world-wide while many more, suffer from the deficiencies of bad nutrition.


Pharmacology, having strong roots in experimental physiology developed in the western world into a field in which biologically active compounds of either natural or synthetic origin were investigated for their properties to change organ and body functions. Following the rapid developments in synthetic chemistry during the last century its main focus shifted towards single compounds which high selectivity and potency. However, since a number of years the gap between both disciplines is narrowing, a movement that is coming from two sides.

Pharmacologists are increasingly realizing that the one disease– one target–one drug concept does not always provide the most successful cure, in particular not for chronic and degenerative diseases. This has led to new strategies for therapy and drug development, including system biology-based approaches, the principles of multi-target pharmacology , and the use of “dirty” or “promiscuous” drugs.

When it comes to understanding the subtle regulation of metabolic diseases and the complexity of pathological disturbances pharmacology can benefit from nutrition science. Vice versa, nutrition science is realizing that the principles of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics provide mechanisms to understand the effects of both essential and nonessential components in our diet. The increased scientific and commercial interest in functional foods and food supplements has further intensified research and development in this area. Many food companies are actively engaged in finding new bioactive compounds that can be used in food products. Some discovery programs in the food industry resemble approaches used in the pharmaceutical world, starting with molecular targets that are not infrequently derived from drug targets. Furthermore, translational research using in vitro, in vivo and clinical studies has become the standard in both nutritional and pharmaceutical companies. Last but not least, the clinic has become increasingly aware of the power of nutrition in improving the outcome of disease or therapy.

The Pharma-Nutrition conference will be the first and foremost platform dedicated to the interface between pharma and nutrition and will aim to highlight, both from a conceptual and a clinical perspective, a number of new developments that are taking place at the interface of pharmacology and nutrition.


Reminder- Accepting abstract submissions now!
Key dates:
Abstract Submission 3rd December 2010
Early bird registration: 3rd December 2010

Johan Garssen, PhD, Conference Chairman

Last updated on: 04/11/2010 15:11:32

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