LINUS PAULING INSTITUTE RESEARCH REPORT

Scott Palmer

Developments

Scott Palmer, LPI Director of Development

This past August, the Linus Pauling Institute held its annual retreat on the beautiful Oregon Coast. As inspiring as the scenery was, for me it was even more impressive to learn about the variety of amazing research projects currently under way in the Institute. Over the years this retreat has become increasingly important in maintaining the cohesiveness of the Institute as we have grown and added more scientists and labs. While this growth is exciting, an unfortunate side effect has been the dispersal of the Institute’s labs into several different buildings across the OSU campus. Now the retreat is the only time when the staff from all ten labs gathers together to review their current and planned research projects, ask questions, pose challenges, and discuss opportunities for collaborative work. The retreat also emphasized to me how important private philanthropy is to the continuing success of the Institute. While LPI continues to receive strong support from the National Institutes of Health, those grants can only be used for very specific purposes. Funding for new research initiatives and other essential programs must come from gifts from people like you.

One of the areas that your support is very important to is Dr. Joe Beckman’s lab. A major objective of the Beckman lab is to enhance and expand the international collaborative research being conducted on neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. LPI is working very closely on these diseases with scientists from the Institute Clemente in Uruguay, which has received international recognition for their work on neurodegeneration. While Parkinson’s, ALS, and Alzheimer’s are each distinct diseases that affect different parts of the brain, there are many similarities in the way they affect the motor system. Several recent epidemiological studies reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association and Archives of Neurology showed that vitamins C and E significantly slowed the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, there is little research being conducted in the United States on the role vitamins E and C and other micronutrients play in delaying, and perhaps preventing, the onset of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Rather, the focus of Alzheimer’s research in this country is drug therapy. Researchers in other countries, including France, Japan, and Uruguay, take a broader approach to research on neurodegeneration, looking at prevention as well as treatment. LPI regularly hosts scientists from the Institute Clemente (many of whom were trained at the Pasteur Institute in Paris) for two to three months at a time, and, in turn, we send our scientists to work there. From LPI’s perspective, the value of this cross-pollination of ideas, approaches, and methodology cannot be overstated. Part of the funding to maintain this unique program comes from the charitable gifts we receive from our donors.

Contributions often provide vital seed money for new research initiatives as well. One example is a preliminary research project that Dr. Maret Traber wants to conduct on vitamin E. As you probably know, a current focus of vitamin E research is to address questions raised by recent analyses of vitamin E intervention studies that suggest that vitamin E supplements may have adverse health effects.

Most, if not all, of the high-dose vitamin E studies are done in patients taking a variety of different prescription drugs. A significant question that remains unanswered is what, if any, interaction is there between vitamin E and drugs? We know that high-dose vitamin E does not cause ANY adverse effects in laboratory rats. Dr. Traber recently submitted a grant proposal to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to carry out further studies in rats to specifically identify mechanisms of xenobiotic metabolism that are affected by vitamin E. This proposal was well received, and we are optimistic that it will be funded. However, this study will not address the question of what happens in humans. LPI previously proposed such studies using human subjects to the NIH, and NIH asked for a new proposal with more preliminary data. Accordingly, Dr. Traber is in the process of designing a study in collaboration with physicians and pharmacists at Good Samaritan Medical Center here in Corvallis, Oregon. She hopes to investigate whether vitamin E supplements given to patients with hypercholesterolemia antagonizes their cholesterol-lowering drug (simvastatin or lovastatin). Clinical investigations using vitamin E supplements and simvastatin have reported adverse vitamin E effects, but have not shown precisely why. The data from this preliminary research project should provide proof of principle that vitamin E does interact with prescription drugs and will be very helpful in developing a more comprehensive grant proposal that will be submitted to NIH in the future. Thanks to the collaborative relationship LPI enjoys with Good Samaritan Medical Center, the estimated cost for this initial study is $100,000. We hope to use money given to us by our donors to pay for this study.

LPI is deeply grateful for the bequests we have received from the following friends since January 2005
Constance Amsden
Elsa Heidere
Mary Martha Gamble Borders
David Holtzman
Betty Brown
Viola H. L. Schmidt
Vernon Cady
David Soltke
Ruth Fairbairn
Martha Winn
Hazle Gilman
John Holterhoff
Elisabeth E. Hausen
 

 

Phone: 503.553.3407
Toll Free: 866.218.8930
Email: Scott.Palmer@oregonstate.edu

Last updated November, 2005


Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health


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